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

Montreal, October 27, 2005 – The Montreal Economic Institute and The Fraser Institute today released the Report Card on Quebec’s Secondary Schools: 2005 Edition, the only publicly available, independent measurement of 459 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.

“The Report Card provides a detailed picture of each school that is not easily available elsewhere,” he continued.

Indicators used in the 2005 Report Card

The foundation of the Report Card is an overall rating of each school’s academic performance. In large part, the overall rating of each school’s academic performance is based on the students’ results in five core academic subject areas: Secondary V level courses in the language of instruction, Mathematics, 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;
(2) Percentage of courses 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.

The first four 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. The fifth indicator is an efficiency measure in that it demonstrates the extent to which the school is successful in keeping its students on task and devoted to the timely completion of their chosen secondary school program.

More available course data improves the Report Card

In past years, Quebec’s ministry of education was only able to provide results for the June sittings of the required provincial exams. Now, for the first time, the ministry has provided the aggregated results for all four of the exam sittings relevant to the 2003/2004 school year. “By taking into account the results from all four test sittings, the Report Card now more accurately reflects each school’s level of performance,” said Cowley.

In addition, the results from Mathematics 514, for which the ministry instituted testing in 2002, have now been included in all applicable indicators and in the calculation of the Overall rating out of 10.

“Whenever additional relevant data becomes available, we can use it to draw a better picture of how each school is doing,” 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.

“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 Norma Kozhaya, co-author and economist at the Montreal Economic Institute.

The Report Card Series

The Fraser Institute publishes annual report cards on secondary schools in British Columbia, Alberta, and Quebec. It also publishes annual report cards on elementary schools in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. The Report Card on Quebec’s Secondary Schools was first published in 2000.

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Peter Cowley, Director of School Performance Studies, the Fraser Institute, Tel. (604) 714-4556 / Mobile (604) 789-0475 / Email: peterc@fraserinstitute.ca
Patrick Leblanc, Director of Communications, Montreal Economic Institute, Tel. (514) 273-0969 / Email: pleblanc@iedm.org

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