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Grading Quebec’s secondary schools – Montreal Economic Institute and Fraser Institute jointly publish fifth annual Report Card

Montreal, October 28, 2004 – The Montreal Economic Institute and The Fraser Institute today released the Report Card on Quebec’s Secondary Schools: 2004 Edition, the only publicly available, independent measurement of 457 of Quebec’s public and private, French and English, secondary schools.

The Report Card collects a variety of relevant, objective indicators of school performance into one easily accessible, public document so that all interested parties – parents, school administrators, teachers, students, and taxpayers – can analyze and compare the performance of individual schools.

“Because it makes comparisons easy, the Report Card alerts parents to those nearby schools that appear to have more effective academic programs. Parents can also determine whether or not schools of interest are improving over time,” said Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at The Fraser Institute, and co-author of the Report Card.

“School administrators who are dedicated to improvement accept the Report Card as another source of opportunities for improvement,” he continued.

Indicators used in the 2004 Report Card

The foundation of the Report Card is an overall rating of each school’s academic performance. In large part, we base our overall rating of each school’s academic performance on the students’ results in five core academic courses: Secondary V level courses in the language of instruction and second languages and Secondary IV level courses in History of Quebec and Canada, Physical Sciences, and Mathematics.

From these results we calculate the following indicators:

(1) Average uniform examination marks in five core courses;
(2) Percentage of uniform examinations failed;
(3) School level grade inflation;
(4) Difference between the examination results of male and female students in Secondary V level language of instruction and in Secondary IV level physical science, and;
(5) A measure of the proportion of each school’s students who stay in school and graduate on time.

“By comparing a school’s latest results with those of earlier years, we can see if the school is improving. By comparing a school’s results with those of neighbouring schools or schools having similar school and student characteristics, we can identify more successful schools and learn from them,” commented Richard Marceau, co-author and associate researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

It is time for more information

Although this Report Card is concerned only with academics, there are other areas of school activity that are important: building citizenship and leadership skills, and encouraging students to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle are just two examples. But these measures require a reliable, objective set of data.

“It’s time the provincial ministry and the school boards across the province generated more data so that parents can be given a fuller picture of what goes on in each school. For example, in BC and Alberta, the ministries provide us with a measure of the student participation levels in key courses. Not so in Quebec,” said Cowley.

Improvement is possible

To improve a school, one must believe that improvement is achievable. This Report Card, like the Institute’s Report Cards published in other provinces, provides evidence about what can be accomplished.

The complete rankings of the schools and detailed tables (in PDF) can be viewed at www.fraserinstitute.ca and at www.iedm.org.

The Report Card Series

The Fraser Institute has published Report Cards on secondary schools in British Columbia since 1998, and in Alberta since 1999. The first Report Card on Quebec’s secondary schools was published in 2000 and in Ontario in 2001. The first elementary schools’ Report Card was published in Alberta in 2002 and was followed in June 2003 with the introduction of elementary school report cards in Ontario and in British Columbia.

In October 2004, Report Cards on New Brunswick’s Anglophone and Francophone high schools were introduced.

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CONTACTS: Peter Cowley, Director of School Performance Studies, The Fraser Institute, Tel. (604) 714-4556 /Cell. (604) 789-0475 / Email: peterc@fraserinstitute.ca. Richard Marceau, Associate Researcher, Montreal Economic Institute, Tel. (514) 273-0969, Email: pleblanc@iedm.org.

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The Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan research and educational institute. MEI is the product of a collaborative effort between Montreal-area academics, economists and entrepreneurs. / Established in 1974, The Fraser Institute is an independent public policy organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.

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