The Fraser Institute released its annual ranking of B.C. elementary schools, and Burnaby's top six are all private schools.
Our Lady of Mercy ranked 13th in the province and first in Burnaby. Holy Cross, John Knox Christian school, St. Michaels, St. Francis de Sales and St. Helen's - all independent schools -took the subsequent top spots, in that order. At seventh place, Buckingham Elementary was the top rated public school in Burnaby, ranking 104th out of the 853 B.C. schools included.
The Fraser Institute's annual school rankings are based on results from the Foundation Skills Assessment tests, a set of provincewide exams for grades 4 and 7 students in reading, writing and math. The right-wing think-tank uses the results to rank both elementary and secondary schools.
This year's Burnaby results are similar to previous years, with private schools taking the tops spots, and the public schools trailing behind.
"They have consistent methodology, I'll give them that," said James Sanyshyn, president of the Burnaby Teachers' Association. Sanyshyn argued the Fraser Institute's methodology was skewed, favouring private schools, which can pick and choose who does the FSAs. Public schools are "inclusive," Sanyshyn said, and have to include everyone including some of the ESL students and special needs students in the FSA tests.
But Neva Grout, principal at Our Lady of Mercy, said her school has ESL and special needs students, and they do the FSA tests.
"We make every single child write the test," she said. "Everybody here writes the test."
However, Our Lady of Mercy, and all of Burnaby's top ranking private schools were listed as having no ESL students and no special needs kids on the Fraser Institute's website. Grout explained that the students go through "intensive instruction" in kindergarten and grades 1 through 3, and by the time they hit Grade 4, the school doesn't report the number of ESL and special needs students to the Education Ministry.
"It's the administrator's responsibility to tell the government how many ESL and special needs students (there are). I just don't bother to report it," she said.
Peter Cowley, author of the Fraser Institute's rankings, explained that while details, such as parents' income and the number of ESL and special needs students, are included in the schools' informational profiles, that data does not affect the rankings. Only results from the FSAs affect the rankings.