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

Montreal, January 10, 2004 – The Montreal Economic Institute and The Fraser Institute today released the Report Card on Quebec’s Secondary Schools: 2003 Edition, the only publicly available, independent measurement of 455 of Quebec’s public and private, French and English, secondary schools.

“More and more parents can choose from among several schools for their children and they rely on the Report Card’s academic indicators to compare schools and make better decisions. Parents also use the Report Card to hold administrators accountable for school improvement,” says Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at The Fraser Institute, and co-author of the Report Card.

Some schools contribute more than others to their students’ results. “Some people believe that students at schools in poor neighbourhoods are doomed to have poor results. The Report Card proves that this just isn’t so. Educators can and should take into account the abilities, interests, and backgrounds of their students when they design lesson plans and teach the curriculum. By doing so, they can tackle any disadvantages that their students may have,” continues Cowley.

“Simply put, effective schools produce good student results regardless of the family background of their students,” says Richard Marceau, co-author and associate researcher at the Montreal Economic Institute.

Indicators used in the 2003 Report Card

The foundation of the Report Card is an overall rating of each school’s academic performance on a scale from 0 to 10. For each school for the seven school years 1996 through 2002 (where data were available), five indicators of school performance were calculated: Average uniform examination marks in five core courses; Percentage of uniform examinations failed; School level grade inflation; Difference between the examination results of male and female students in Secondary V level language of instruction and in Secondary VI level physical science, and; A measure of the proportion of each school’s students who stay in school and graduate on time. These indicators demonstrate the effectiveness of the school’s efforts by measuring the extent to which it equips all its students with the knowledge and skills embodied in the curricula and the extent to which the school is successful in keeping its students on task and devoted to the completion of their chosen secondary school program. The Report Card includes results in all of the key subject areas—language arts, mathematics, the sciences, and the humanities, thereby providing a more complete picture of school performance.

“We have selected these indicators because they provide systematic insight into a school’s performance. Because they are based on annually-generated data, we can assess not only each school’s performance in a year but also its improvement or deterioration over time,” adds Marceau.

“We are encouraged by the amount of feedback we receive each year,” says Marceau. “We plan to add more indicators as relevant data become available and we encourage all interested parties to suggest new measures of school effectiveness that they believe will improve the Report Card.”

The complete rankings of the schools and detailed tables (in PDF) can be viewed at www.fraserinstitute.ca and at www.iedm.org. At www.iedm.org, the Montreal Economic Institute has provided a tool that allows parents to generate customized rankings based on geographical areas and type of school.

The Report Card series

The Fraser Institute and the Montreal Economic Institute published the first Report Card on Quebec’s secondary schools in 2000. The Fraser Institute has published Report Cards on secondary schools in British Columbia since 1998, and in Alberta since 1999. The first elementary schools’ Report Card was published in Alberta in June 2002. Report Cards on BC and Ontario elementary schools were introduced in June 2003.

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CONTACTS: Peter Cowley, Director of School Performance Studies, The Fraser Institute, Tel. (604) 714-4556, or Richard Marceau, Associate Researcher, Montreal Economic Institute, Tel. (514) 273-0969.

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.

For further information, please contact: Suzanne Walters, Director of Communications, The Fraser Institute, Tel. (604) 714-4582, or Patrick Leblanc, Director of Communications, Montreal Economic Institute, Tel. (514) 273-0969.

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