Quebec school ranking list flawed: educators

Some Montreal-area schools are questioning the methodology of an annual ranking report issued by the Fraser Institute.

Some Montreal-area schools are questioning the methodology of an annual ranking report issued by the Fraser Institute.

The Vancouver-based think-tank ranks Quebec public and private high schools annually, on two separate lists, based on academic performance. 

According to the report, issued Friday, three public English-language schools in Quebec made the top ten list — and three English-language schools were rated at the bottom of the pile.

Vincent Massey Collegiate in Montreal's Rosemont borough is ranked sixth on the list, which helps the school recruit prospective students for its competitive entrance exams, written every year by hundreds vying for 150 spots, said principal John Pevec.

"We're competing for students who would be considering private school," he said. "So for us to rank as high as we did, that bodes quite well for us."

"In particular, when parents come to our open house, and they're shopping around for schools, they want to know how we compare to the private schools," Pevec said.

But ranking schools according to academic performance alone doesn't recognize the diversity of students in the province, the principal added. 

"I think it's unfair to put us in the same category as a regular public school," Pevec said. "We select our population, we don't take every student. So to compare us to the school down the street that accepts [everyone], that's an unfair comparison."

Low ranking affects student morale

The Fraser report often hurts the credibility of some very good schools, suggested Mike Cohen, spokesman for the English Montreal School Board.

Some educators are taking issue with the Fraser Institute's annual school ranking report. ((CBC))
"There are schools that are very low down [in the ranks] and their numbers aren't as high as they wish."

James Lyng High School in Montreal's St-Henri district ranked 435th, out of 446 schools across the province.

The schools administrators don't place much importance overall on Fraser's report, said guidance councillor Sue Meyer. But it's still misleading because James Lyng deals mainly with special needs students.

"What we do here is that we try to look at their strengths, look at their abilities, and work with that," Meyer said. Comparing those students to top academic performers damages their morale, when they are already facing challenges at school. 

"You have to look at the school, and what the school is offering, and what type of student is coming to that school. It's like apples and oranges, you can't compare the two," Meyer said.

"You have to look at the child and see number one, the child is here. And that's half the battle. And number two, the child is happy to be here, and working hard."

The Fraser Institute conducts research on public policy, and champions free-market economic solutions.

Fraser Institute top-rated Quebec public schools:

  • École d'éducation internationale in McMasterville (on Montreal's South Shore).
  • Collège Saint-Louis, Montreal.
  • École Internationale de Montréal, Westmount.
  • École d'éducation internationale de Laval.
  • Royal West Academy, Montreal West.
  • Vincent Massey Collegiate, Montreal.
  • École secondaire de Rochebelle, Quebec City.
  • Académie de Roberval, Montreal.
  • St. Thomas High School, Pointe-Claire.
  • École secondaire Pierre-Laporte, Town of Mount Royal.    

Fraser Institute top-rated Quebec private schools:

  • Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, Montreal.
  • College Jean-Eudes, Montreal.
  • Collège Régina Assumpta, Montreal.
  • Collège Jean de la Mennais, La Prairie.
  • Collège Saint-Sacrement, Terrebonne.
  • Miss Edgar's & Miss Cramp's School, Westmount.
  • Pensionnat du Sain-Nom-de-Marie, Montreal
  • Collège Charlemagne, Montreal.
  • Collège Saint-Alexandre, Gatineau
  • Collège Sainte-Anne de Lachine, Montreal.
  • The Study, Westmount.
  • Collège Jésus-Marie de Sillery, Quebec.
  • Collège Saint-Joseph de Hull, Gatineau.