Williams Lake high schools ranked by Fraser Institute

Williams Lake secondary was ranked 264 out of 280 and Columneetza secondary was rated 269 out of 280.

Williams Lake secondary was ranked 264 out of 280 and Columneetza secondary was rated 269 out of 280, in the Fraser Institute’s latest rankings of secondary schools in B.C., released Monday.

Superintendent of schools for School District 27 Diane Wright said the Fraser Institute’s foundation skills assessment results do not tell the whole story about the high schools in Williams Lake.

“What I can tell you is we work with all of our schools and we review information about how students are doing both at the school level, and then I review that at the district level and that’s what’s referenced in the achievement contract and the superintendent’s report,” Wright explained, adding those annual reports are accepted by the board and posted on the district’s website.

“Those are the reports that really tell us how our students are doing.”

In the last five years, Wright has seen a shift in the trend, particularly with elementary students.

There have been positive increases in the FSAs for reading and writing, notably among First Nations students. At the secondary level, grade-to-grade transitions rates through grade 11 are also improving.

“It’s difficult because outside of Grade 12 English, Grade 12 exams are no longer required so we’re looking at Grade 10 results,” she said, adding work still needs to be done to improve the graduation rates, but there is work that’s happening behind the scenes to address that issue.

Last week Wright and facilitator Dave MacLeod spent the day in 150 Mile House with secondary students from Alexis Creek, 100 Mile House, Peter Skene Ogden, Horsefly, Williams Lake and Columneetza schools, as well as G.R.O.W. and Skyline — two off-site alternate programs in Williams Lake.

“We asked what their best vision of the future of schools was,” she said, adding it’s student voices that are the piece of the story needed to make a shift in education.

“The students were fabulous. It was a diverse group, but the common voice was that there needs to be relevance in what they are learning and they need to be provided with real hands-on, outside-of-the-classroom experiences,” Wright said, adding the students’ abilities to articulate their needs were really impressive.

MacLeod will be presenting a report to the school board at the end of May about the student session.

In addition, participating students have agreed to be part of an online focus group and will be further engaged by answering questions.

“We’re really intrigued to send out a question next year to students that have graduated, asking them what they can tell us now after being out of school for a bit. For example, what would make a real difference?”

The Fraser Institute’s academic performance rated WLSS 3.5 out of 10 and CSS 2.8 out of 10.

The information included with each rating showed in 2010-2011 there were 103 students enrolled in Grade 12 in WLSS, with 13.4 per cent speaking English as a Second Language, 8.7 per cent described as special needs, no French Immersion students, and parents’ average income of $58,3000.

At Columneetza secondary there were 160 students enrolled in Grade 12, with 5.4 per cent speaking English as a Second Language, 6.1 per cent described as special needs, 3.4 French Immersion students and parents’ average income of $60,900.

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