Frequently asked questions

1.   Why is my school not listed in the report card?
2.   Can I choose a school based on the report card alone?
3.   Does the report card take into account the fact that some schools try to improve results by encouraging lower performing kids not to take the exams?
4.   Is the report card only a snapshot?
5.   What subjects do the report cards look at?
6.   What exam results are used in the calculations for the report cards?
7.   Does the data that the rating is based on come from the same school year that the report card is released in?
8.   Isn't the report card just a way to distinguish the “have” schools from the “have not” schools?
9.   How do we improve our ranking?
10. Should I consider an Overall Rating below 6 a fail?
11. Do you report data in the same way as the the departments of education do?
12. Why did the ranking of my child's school decrease (or increase) this year?
13. What does “n/a” mean when it appears in a school's results?
14. What does it mean that the report card's results are relative?
15. Why do the report cards not include indicators like trades, fine arts, citizenship etc.?
16. Is it true that in small schools just a couple of poor exam results can negatively affect the school's overall rating?
17. When are the report cards published?
18. Does the Fraser Institute prepare and/or administer the exams the report cards are based on?

1. Q: Why is my school not listed in the report card?
A: Each school must have a minimum enrollment of students (usually 15) in the grades from which the data are drawn. Schools that have fewer than this minimum number of students do not appear in the report card. In some cases due to circumstances beyond the control of the school (such as school burned down, flooding, epidemic), the available data is insufficient to rank the school.
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2. Q: Can I choose a school based on the report card alone?
A: We do not recommend this. The report card answers the question ‘overall, how is the school doing academically?' The report card is one objective tool for parents to use when choosing a school for their child or when they want to keep informed about the school their child is attending. The report card should be used in conjunction with visits to the school and discussions with administrators, teachers, support staff, their child and other parents.
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3. Q: Does the report card take into account the fact that some schools try to improve results by encouraging lower performing kids not to take the exams?
A: Wherever possible we design the report card so as to discourage schools from excluding any students from participating in assessments. For example, many of our report cards include a measure of the “tests not written.”
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4. Q: Is the report card only a snapshot?
A: For each of the indicators of school performance and for the overall rating out of 10, the report cards provide a number of years of historical data. This provides a more valid picture of how the school has performed and how it might perform in the future. Each individual school report provides something more like a motion picture rather than a single year's snapshot.
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5. Q: What subjects do the report cards look at?
A: Generally, the report cards consider academic subject areas or courses in which there is a uniform statewide assessment.
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6. Q: What exam results are used in the calculations for the report cards?
A: We use the results of jurisdiction-wide tests sanctioned by the state or provincial department of education.
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7. Q: Does the data that the rating is based on come from the same school year that the report card is released in?
A: No. The report card is based on the results of the most recent year for which we have received data from the government department responsible for education. Usually this is the previous school year. For example: the 2010 report cards will include data from the 2008-2009 school year.
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8. Q: Isn't the report card just a way to distinguish the “have” schools from the “have not” schools?
A: No. While it is sometimes easier for schools to successfully teach children who enjoy many advantages at home, each year the report cards identify many schools with students that have very good results even though they serve students whose families do not have a high income level or high level of parental education.
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9. Q: How do we improve our rating?
A: One suggestion would be to identify other schools serving students with similar personal and family characteristics that are doing better. Staff at these higher performing schools might be able to provide information about how they helped their students overcome the same challenges that your school's students face.
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10. Q: Should I consider an Overall Rating below 6 a fail?
A: No. In most cases, a rating of 6 is the statewide or provincial average. The school rating does not reflect a pass or fail. It simply reflects how far above or below the statewide or provincial average the school is performing .
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11. Q: Do you report data in the same way as the state or provincial education departments do?
A: School results are based on data provided to us by the respective education departments. However, the report card indicators may present department data in ways not used by the department.
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12. Q: Why did the ranking of my child's school decrease (or increase) this year?
A: The report card was designed to provide information about how each school is doing academically. The reasons for individual school results will likely vary from school to school. It's essential to remember that how a school does over time is most important.
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13. Q: In the report cards why is there an “n/a” reported for some indicator values?
A: Where insufficient data are available for the calculation of an indicator, overall rating, or trend measure, an “n/a” appears in the tables.
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14. Q: What does it mean that the report card's results are relative?
A: This means that each school is rated relative to every other school. So, in order for a school to get a higher overall rating, it would have to improve faster than the average degree of improvement for all the schools in the report card.
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15. Q: Why do the report cards not include indicators of school performance in areas like trades training, the fine arts, and development of good citizenship skills?
A: Indicators related to these areas of school performance are not included because of insufficient data to fairly rate schools. If data were to become available, we would certainly consider including these measures in the report cards.
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16. Q: Is it true that in small schools just a couple of poor exam results can negatively affect the school's overall rating?
A: Yes, smaller schools can be significantly affected either for better or worse by the results of a small number of students. Particularly when considering the performance of smaller schools, you should consider all the historical results so that you have a better picture of how the school has performed over time.
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17. Q: When are the report cards published each year?
A: The report cards are updated as soon as possible after new data become available. We are not unable to provide exact publishing dates. The most recent available edition is always available on the home page of each jurisdiction.
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18. Q: Does the Fraser Institute prepare and/or administer the exams the report cards are based on?
A: No. The Fraser Institute does not prepare or administer exams of any kind. We simply report the results of statewide or provincial exams through the publishing of the report cards.
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