By Carolyn Breland, Head of School
As we have recently received some questions regarding the Fraser Institute Rankings, we would like to share our perspective and hopefully address any concerns parents may have.
As cited in Our Kids Magazine, “There is no such thing as the number one school. But there is such a thing as the number one school for a child.”
Over 20+ years ago, the Fraser Institute issued its first report card ranking Canadian elementary and secondary schools. Since that time, almost unanimously, educators across the country have rejected and continue to oppose the idea of ranking schools based solely on academic achievement, specifically the results of one set of provincial achievement tests (PATs).
There are many facets of learning that the Fraser Institute’s reporting approach neglects such as personal growth, leadership skill development, community involvement, etc. Provincial tests are merely a snapshot of a student’s progress on a given day and not a reflection of their overall ability, school demographics or the multiple intelligences of children.
In the context of River Valley School, there is an obvious misalignment with this ranking system. As an inclusive school that focuses on a holistic approach to educating children, it is important to remember that:
- Applicant students to our school do not participate in formal academic testing as part of the RVS admissions process
- The school does not insist on re-qualification to move between grades or divisions
These are all factors required to remain in the number one position in the Fraser Institute ranking system. Instead, we boast a diverse community of learners, where students of a wide variety of academic abilities are supported to work at their own personal levels. Those who need support receive it and those who need extra enrichment experience that too. Our students do well academically because they love learning, feel confident to take risks and don’t shy away from making mistakes. Their value is not placed on the ability to pass tests but, rather, to ask meaningful questions, solve problems, collaborate, communicate and make sound decisions.
It is also important to note that every year, on average, as an inclusive school, 25% of River Valley School students are on Individualized Program Plans (IPPs). Looking at our graduating class of 2022-23, 6 students did not write the PATs (a decision made jointly between the school and their families). Despite knowing that students opting out of the PATS receive an automatic zero, we fully supported the decision for these students to not write as it would have been detrimental to their self-confidence and mental health. Of equal importance, River Valley School students who did participate in the test, scored above the provincial average in all subject areas. Last year, as we do every year, we celebrated the growth and success of all of our students.
At River Valley School, we unapologetically value social and character development as much as academic achievement. We prioritize the benefits of inquiry, project-based and cross-curricular opportunities to learn. We provide for the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development of each student — highly valued aspects of learning not captured in the Fraser Institute rankings. Wonder lives in a school that recognizes the individual strengths and needs of every student in their care. At River Valley School, we are incredibly proud that wonder lives here.