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Catholic schools top Fraser report

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Pembroke was ranked the fifth best in Renfrew County, according to the annual Fraser Institute's Report Card on Ontario’s Elementary Schools 2017, which was released Sunday.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Pembroke was ranked the fifth best in Renfrew County, according to the annual Fraser Institute's Report Card on Ontario’s Elementary Schools 2017, which was released Sunday.

Many Renfrew County's elementary schools continue to reside in the upper half of school rankings in Ontario, according to the Fraser Insititute.

Released Sunday by the Vancouver-based think tank, this Report Card on Ontario’s Elementary Schools 2017 ranks 3,064 public and Catholic schools (and a small number of private schools) based on Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) information derived from province-wide tests of reading, writing, and mathematics skills in the 2015/2016 school year to rank English and French, public, and Catholic elementary schools from across Ontario.

Peter Cowley, director of School Performance Studies at the Fraser Institute, stated in a press release this report card is a valuable tool for parents and educators, who can use it to find schools serving similar students elsewhere in the province that consistently perform better.

“By doing so, they can access success demonstrated by other similar schools so to improve their own school’s performance,” he stated. Province-wide test results and the report card help spotlight successful schools across the province that can serve as an example for others to follow.

Schools from the Renfrew County Catholic District School Board (RCCDSB) excelled, with its schools ranked the top seven in the county, with Renfrew's St. Thomas the Apostle the number one ranked school in Ontario, sitting with a perfect 10 score.

Arnprior's John XXIII, which held that provincial top spot before, ranked 52 out of 3,064 and was the number two school in the county, followed by St. Andrew's in Killaloe (ranked 89), St. Joseph's in Arnprior (ranked 165), Our Lady of Lourdes in Pembroke (ranked 265), Our Lady of Fatima in Renfrew (ranked 359) and St. Mary's in Deep River (ranked 404).

Rounding out the top ten were two schools from the Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB); Mackenzie Community School, elementary side, in Deep River (also ranked 404) and Cobden Public School (ranked 694), followed by RCCDSB's St. Francis of Assisi in Petawawa (ranked 770).

Ecole élémentaire Catholique Jeanne-Lajoie in Pembroke, part of the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est, ranked 1,413 out of 3,064 in Ontario.

École élémentaire publique L'Équinoxe, also of Pembroke, of the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario, ranked 2,067 out of 3,064.

Officials at both the RCDSB and the RCCDSB have continued to stress the public shouldn't take the rankings at face value, as the data used is very narrowly applied, and only highlights a small portion of each school at a specific moment in time.

Wendy Hewitt, RCDSB chairwoman, said the information used had to be taken into context.

“The data from EQAO test results are valuable in that they provide information on how to improve school programming, including school improvement goals on reading, writing and math,” she said. “But this just one piece of the whole picture about a school.”

Hewitt said the EQAO information helps show where students need extra help to improve their reading, writing and math.

“At same time, we believe the ratings provide an incomplete picture of school effectiveness,” she said. “There is no available evidence that links the ranking of schools to improvements in student learning.”

Hewitt said in the end, the board feels academic achievement should be based on all the programs offered in a school, and they know schools work hard to support critical thinking, problem-solving and academic success.

Efforts to contact the RCCDSB were unsuccessful as of press time.

To find out where your school sits in the rankings, plus further details on how the rank was determined, visit www.compareschoolrankings.org.

SUhler@postmedia.com