The Fraser Institute has released its annual school report ranking 279 Alberta public, private, separate, and charter high schools by academic performance.

Edmonton’s Old Scona High School and St. Alberta’s Ste Margeurite d’Youville are among the four schools tied for first place in the 2011/2012 school year rankings.

Only two other Edmonton-area schools made it to the top 20: Sherwood Park’s Strathcona Christian Academy and Edmonton’s École J. H. Picard.

The study also ranked schools showing major improvements, which report co-author Peter Cowley says is key to a good education system.

"Improving schools should be the ones that other schools that have not yet been so successful will look to to find out the answer to the very important question, 'what have you done to improve the results of your classes year after year after year?'" said Cowley.

Two of the 22 high schools listed as showing an improvement in academic performance are in the Edmonton area: Holy Trinity Catholic High School and the Strathcona Christian Academy.

Holy Trinity showed the most improvement, jumping 19 spots to place 83rd out of the 279 schools surveyed.

While the results can help give parents an idea of which schools perform strongly on academics, Cowley says that there are many other measures that parents might want to keep in mind, depending on their child's needs and interests.

"How is the school doing in encouraging the kids to involve themselves in activities like sports?" he says. "How is the school doing in encouraging participation in the fine arts, and acquiring leadership, citizenship and teamwork skills? Any of that might be important."

The full list of rankings is available here.