Private schools came out on top in the 2006 Quebec high school ranking list, an annual survey conducted by the Montreal Economic Institute and the Fraser Institute, and published in L'Actualité magazine.

The list evaluates 458 French and English high schools across Quebec, both public and private, on the following criteria:

  • Average uniform examination mark.
  • Percentage of core courses failed.
  • School-level grade inflation.
  • Difference between the examination results of male and female students in Secondary 5 (Grade 11).
  • A measure of the likelihood that students enrolled at the school will stay in school and complete their selected program of studies in a timely manner.

Five Montreal-area schools clinched the top spot in a five-way tie: Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramp's School, Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, Collège Jean-Eudes, Collège Régina Assumpta, and Herzliah High School.

It's no surprise that private schools and schools that select studentsfared better on the list than institutions that take teenagers on a first-come, first-serve basis, said l'Actualité editor-in-chief, Carole Beaulieu. What's interesting is how some schools have made leaps and bounds in improving their rankings, often without any extra resources.

For example, École Buckingham, in western Quebec, jumped 215 spots, Beaulieu said. James Lyng High School, in Montreal's St-Henri district, moved up 61 spots, to clinch the 299th berth (up from 360 last year.)

The ranking should serve as a guide for schools to improve weaker areas, Beaulieu said.

James Lyng has taken that advice to heart. Less than a decade ago,less than half the students at the school graduated with a high school diploma.

The school administrators decided to experiment with class form and structure to improve students' performance. They separated girls and boys in math and English classes, for example. They also offer some courses on-line, and invited parents to get more involved in their children's academic life.

The long-term efforts continue to pay off, according to Larissa Stutterheim, a teacher at James Lyng. "The whole idea of what we're doing, is trying to make school as relevant as possible to the students," she told CBC.
As the school performs better it will continue to attract more motivated students, Stutterheim added.