How should the Fraser School Ranking be used in school selection?
I get asked this question on a fairly regular basis and I’m always glad when someone asks because there is an answer to the question. Sometimes, when a school isn’t as high in the rankings as other schools, the work of the Fraser Institute can be disparaged. The fact is, for what the Fraser Institute measures, it does an exceptional job; however it can’t measure everything that matters. It can’t measure student experience and it is not a predictor of alumni success. The Institute also acknowledges it is not reporting on all measures:
“Of course, the choice of a school should not be made solely on the basis of any one source of information. Families choosing a school for their students should seek more information by visiting the school and interviewing teachers and school administrators. The websites of Alberta Education, local school districts, and individual schools can also be sources of useful information. And, a sound academic program should be complemented by effective programs in areas of school activity not measured by the Report Card. Nevertheless, the Report Card provides a detailed picture of each school that is not easily available elsewhere.”
Up until the end of grade 9 in Alberta almost all students study the same curriculum and are assessed at the same level. One of those measures is the Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs). The only students not following this program are those with significant learning challenges who study what is known as Knowledge and Employability curriculum and write PATs for that level. High school curriculum splits into four levels; you’ll hear the talk of “dash one” or “dash two” in reference to which strand of curriculum a student is enrolled in. For example, in grade 10 a student can take English 10-1 or English 10-2 and so on. For those of you who completed high school in Alberta a number of years ago, the strands used to be numbered 10, 13, 14 to indicate the variety of levels. At Master’s College we believe in the academic potential of all of our students and have designed our senior high school program around the “dash one” or highest level courses. In larger schools, four levels of courses are offered and students are placed by the school in the level deemed best for them. Schools that only accept and keep students because of their academic scores can of course create a situation where the data reflects this and results in a higher ranking.
However, the “dash one” courses set students up to qualify for university acceptance. Master’s College does not block students from attempting the “dash one” courses even though it might be a stretch for them. In 2002, in our first grad class, one young lady worked with me in the highest level of grade 12 math. She worked hours every day to learn the material to the best of her ability and ended the course with about a 65% average. How does that play out in Fraser Rankings? Not great. But when I spoke with her as a university graduate employed in her field she cited the time spent in grade 12 math as one of the most significant experiences in her life. She was more proud of that 65% grade than many of her other academic successes. Should Master’s have told her to take a lower level math? Perhaps. But only if the number in the Fraser Rankings means more to us than believing in the value of perseverance and of stretching yourself to reach new heights.
The Master’s College Graduate Profile states:
Our graduates will be able to pursue their personal vision without limitation by achieving a high level of ACADEMIC EXCELLENCEand by BECOMING IMAGINAL LEADERS
Our focus is on both academic preparation for university as well as on who the student is becoming. Our Imaginal Design program is a one of a kind program that develops the Imaginal abilities of our students to become seers of, learners from, and creators of the future. This alone gives our graduates a tremendous competitive advantage for life beyond school, which is the real objective of education.
The academic preparation our College students are receiving is exemplified by the latest PAT/Diploma results, showing that our students are far exceeding provincial norms at both the Acceptable (pass) and Excellence (honours) levels in grades 9 and 12.
While we may not be in the top ten schools in the Fraser Institute School Ranking, Master’s College is well within the top 15% of schools in the entire province. Do we seek to improve? Always. However, our graduates are going to the universities of their choice in the programs of their choice. Our alumni are doctors, lawyers, engineers, business owners, managers, nurses, teachers, performers, accountants, and so on. More than that, they demonstrate a belief in themselves and a pursuit led by their passions. They are supported in who they are becoming and are cared about by Christian teachers. They are challenged to rise above, to step up, to lead. If you want to know if your son or daughter should attend Master’s College, attend our graduation in June—see the culmination of the time our senior students have spent at Master’s. See how we deliver on the promise that Master’s graduates are Future Ready.