Fraser Institute ranks STM No. 1 school in Burnaby

The Fraser Institute has ranked St. Thomas More Collegiate as the top school in Burnaby, according to the think-tank's annual Report Card.

Every year, the right-leaning Fraser Institute ranks B.C. secondary and elementary schools based on a number of factors, mainly results from the foundation skills assessment, annual province-wide reading, writing and math tests for grades 4 and 7 students.

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St. Thomas More, an independent Catholic school, ranked first in Burnaby and 21st in the province, while Burnaby Mountain Secondary came in second in the city and 83rd in B.C. Carver Christian High School ranked third in Burnaby and 103rd in the province.

Byrne Creek Secondary, a school with a high number of refugee students, was ranked last in the city and 251st out of 260 schools ranked.

The Fraser Institute's Report Card is meant to measure overall school performance and give the public a chance to compare secondary and elementary schools, based on rankings. Private schools typically come out on top every year, something that irks the B.C. Teachers' Federation and at least one local father. Burnaby resident Peter Madden characterized the Report Card as bogus.

"It's front-end loaded to reflect the reality of the private-school system and does not reflect the reality of a public-school system, which has no choice but to accept every student that applies," Madden said. "It's very easy to come out smelling like roses if you can be highly selective in who you choose to be students in your school."

Madden's son graduated from Burnaby South Secondary, which ranked seventh in Burnaby and 173rd in the province in this year's Report Card, yet he's excelled academically and graduated from UBC's medical school as class valedictorian.

"It tells me that the Fraser Institute's report is biased," Madden asked. "(My son) wasn't the only one who graduated with high marks," he said, adding many Burnaby South students were doing well academically.

"It's very annoying to have this rightwing think-tank . that thinks the be-all and end-all is the private school system," he said.

In a Simon Fraser University press release, education professor Daniel Laitsch said the Report Card is an example of advocacy research designed to promote a particular world view.

"The formula used to rank schools inherently favours schools with competitive admissions standards, while penalizing schools working with students achieving at a variety of levels," Laitsch said. "It is based entirely on a narrow body of mandatory exams given in specific grades and courses, ignoring the broader body of elective coursework and student outcomes." jmoreau@burnabynow.com

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