Annual report ranks Vincent Massey top school in Windsor-Essex

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Windsor Star/Joel Boyce

Vincent Massey  is the leading local high school, according to a Fraser Institute ranking of Ontario high schools that included three local schools in the top 100.

The results were released Sunday morning.

In the annual report, Vincent Massey placed 48th  out of 740 schools. Since 2010, the South Windsor school’s score in the rankings has jumped from 6.7 out of 10 to 8.2.

Massey principal Larry Ash said he doesn’t put much thought into rankings that are based on provincial EQAO scores.

“There’s a lot more to a school experience than just a Grade 9 math test or a Grade 10 literacy test,” Ash said Sunday evening, referring to the  Education Quality and Accountability Office tests on which the Fraser Institute rankings are based. “There’s a lot more to the great things that happen at Massey than these two test scores.”

But Ash said Massey’s top-spot ranking in the region just reiterates what he already knew – that Massey is a top-notch school that does a great job at providing a well-rounded education for students. He added it’s always nice for teachers to be recognized for their efforts.

“I think more often than not, you take a look at schools and what makes them great is the hard work that teachers do day in and day out,” said Ash. “So it’s always nice to see that be recognized.”

Massey is one of the schools in the region with an enriched program that draws high-achieving students to the school. Its math program has a national reputation with students regularly winning national contests.

General Amherst and St. Anne high school were the other two schools in the top 100.

“These are schools others should be looking to for information,” said Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at the Fraser Institute.

The institute’s Report Card ranks public and Catholic schools – and a small number of private schools – based on seven academic indicators using data from the annual tests of literacy and math managed by EQAO.

E.J. Lajeunesse high school was another school that impressed Cowley. The French-language Catholic high school jumped from a ranking of 5.4 in 2009 to 6.6 in 2013.

“If there is anything you can ask of any staff at a school, that each year they find a way to ensure the greater successes of their current class compared to the classes historically, I believe there is nothing more than you can ask for,” he said.

Western Secondary, a high school in rural Amherstburg that focuses on technical programs, was near the bottom of the list placing 730th with a ranking of zero.

Overall, high schools in the Windsor-Essex Region had an  average rating of 6.0. In the public board, General Amherst was ranked 80th, Kingsville was 122nd, Belle River and Sandwich were tied at 158th, Harrow and the new Tecumseh Vista were tied at 301st, Walkerville was 478th, Leamington, Herman and Riverside were tied at 497th,  Essex was 518th, Kennedy was 564th and Forster was 722nd.

In the Catholic board, St. Anne was 87th, Brennan was 145th, Holy Names was 158th, Villanova was 183rd, St. Joseph’s was 236th, Assumption was 301st, Cardinal Carter was 478th and Catholic Central was 546th. Go to to see the rankings.

Public school board spokesman Scott Scantlebury declined to comment on the list of schools in his district individually.

“If we were to rate all our schools, they’d be equal,” he said.

Scantlebury said the Report Card is only one element of data.

“The information that is used to create the Fraser Report is months old, as far as the school board is concerned, and has already been evaluated,” he said. “It’s already being used in trying to improve student performance.”

According to Scantlebury, all schools have tremendous attributes and certain issues that require attention. They each have distinct personalities and identities, he said, and the report provides no relevant information about the identities of the schools.

“This creates misconceptions in the community,” he said. “The most work that comes from the (Fraser Institute) report each year is really overcoming the misconception of the schools that it creates.”

But Cowley disagreed, saying the Report Card  helps parents and educators compare schools by showing which schools have improved and which schools have fallen behind.

These statistics are very important to parents, he said.

Cowley recommends parents ask principals: “What’s the improvement plan? When will it start to reflect in these results? What is our role as parents in the improvements?”

Too often, school officials don’t ask these questions, he said.

Scantlebury said the board encourages parents to be involved,  however parents should contact their child’s teacher to discuss their child’s individual performance.

“If parents and families have questions about their school based on what they see in the report, they should look deeper into the school because they are all wonderful places with really dedicated staff there for the kids,” Scantlebury said.

Cowley stressed the point that the Fraser Institute’s annual report is to measure how a school is doing academically. It doesn’t say why it’s doing good or bad, he said.

“(Windsor) is at average, so there is a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “I would urge everyone involved in the Greater-Essex area  to think about what is our improvement program, how are we measuring it, how is it going and does everyone in Windsor know we have one?

“You need to believe improvement is possible.”