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The annual Fraser Institute rankings of schools is out and private institutions and public schools in affluent areas scored extremely well.

The Foundation Skills Assessment tests and Fraser rankings does nothing for the morale of students and staff and instead boosts the real estate market in places such as Vancouver where parents choose to live in neighbourhoods where the perceived “best schools” are located.

Multiple studies prove the best indicator of achievement in school is the economic status of the parents.

The money parents have in the bank is often relevant to student achievement. High- income children have access to tutoring, top-of-the-line

computers, enriched resources and travel opportunities to museums and art galleries. It’s unlikely they’re home at night babysitting a younger sibling because they’re being raised by a single parent who needs to work a second job.

The Grade 4 and 7 FSAs, which the data is based on, are a waste of four or five days of valuable instructional time. Think of the learning that could take place during those days if they didn’t waste time on FSAs.

The kids know it’s a futile exercise, so it’s doubtful they’re giving a 100 per cent effort when FSAs roll around.

Comparing a private school with a public school is apples to carrots. They’re two different things. If there are rankings, it should be done with two lists — private and public.

It’s also not a big secret that some private schools score better by excluding certain students from writing the test and from pre-test coaching and mentoring. This doesn’t seem to happen as often in public schools.

Private schools can kick a kid out of their school for behavioural issues. Public schools often don’t have that luxury.

Although no individual children are named, the school and grade level comes dangerously close to being a breach of trust.

Two things need to be done.

School boards need to scream louder that it’s a worthless exercise. The government should refuse to hand the data over to the Fraser Institute. Journalists are constantly denied access to information that should be public, due to some fancy loophole.

If the Fraser Institute cares about student success as much as they say, instead of spending money and resources telling the public which schools have the smartest and dumbest students, lobby government for expanded lunch and breakfast programs, Smart Start funding and a $10 daycare policy (which the NDP has talked about for years, but never implemented.)

James Miller is managing editor of The Kelowna Daily Courier.

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