Princeton Secondary ranks in bottom half of B.C. schools

Princeton Secondary School ranked in the bottom half of all B.C. and Yukon schools in the Fraser Institute's 2011 annual report.

Princeton Secondary School ranked in the bottom half of all B.C. and Yukon schools in the Fraser Institute’s 2011 annual report.

PSS placed 218 out of 280 schools, with a score of 4.9/10.

Schools were based on seven key indicators using data from the annual province-wide exams administered by the B.C. Ministry of Education.

PSS didn’t fare as well in 2011 as it did the year before in overall score, average exam mark, percentage of exams failed and graduation rate. The school earned 6.3/10 in 2010, up dramatically from 2.3/10 in 2007.

Similkameen Secondary in Keremeos scored better than Princeton, coming in 98 out of 280 schools and scoring 6.6/10.

PSS students’ average exam mark was 63 per cent in 2011, down four per cent from the last year, but up from 2007.

Twelve per cent of exams were failed, up from five per cent in 2010.

This was a big improvement over 2007, when 26 per cent of exams were failed.

PSS’s graduation rate for 2011 was 92 per cent, down five per cent from 2010.

The Fraser Institute also predicted each school’s ranking based on parents’ average income.

PSS parents earn around $63,500 a year, and the school’s ranking closely matched this number.

The highest ranking schools were private schools in Vancouver, including York House, Crofton House and Little Flower that scored over 9.7/10.

The top 10 ranked schools were all from the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island.

The lowest ranking schools are Nisga’a Elementary-Secondary in northern B.C., George M Dawson Secondary on Haida Gwaii and Hazelton Seondary in northern B.C. All scored lower than 0.5/10.

Teachers and principals have voiced concerns about the report in the past, saying it does not reflect every school properly.

Exam results do not necessarily indicate how well a school is doing, the teachers said.

But Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies, said in a news release that the report considers all factors that affect learning.

“That’s why our report card offers demographic data in addition to exam results,” he said.

According to the report, 14 of the fastest-improving secondary schools in B.C. are public schools. Of that total, 10 are below the provincial average in terms of parental incomes.

“Our rankings show that every school is capable of improvement, regardless of the personal and family characteristics of its student population,” Cowley said.

Parents have shown great interest in the ranking, the institute said.

Last year, 390,000 individual school reports and comparisons on B.C. and Yukon secondary schools were downloaded.

“Clearly, parents want to know whether their local schools are meeting the provincial standard for learning,” Cowley said. “Whether it’s schools, hospitals, or any public institution, governments need to measure performance and encourage improvement.”