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The C.D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. Widely considered to be Canada's most influential think tank, the Institute is a trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review.

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Alberta’s Best-Performing Schools: Where Teachers Make the Difference

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August 21, 2013 – A new in-depth report reveals Alberta’s best schools using student results on Provincial Achievement Tests in math, reading, science and social studies in grades 3, 6 and 9. In “Identifying Alberta’s Best Schools,” Professor David Johnson compares student outcomes on an “apples-to-apples” basis at Alberta schools where students come from similar socio-economic backgrounds, revealing “good” schools where principals, teachers and staff are making a noticeably positive difference to student performance.

The resulting school ratings, by percentile, are useful not only to parents, but to teachers, school board administrators and education officials who wish to identify schools whose practices deserve imitation, or where improvement is warranted.

As a starting point, the study uses results from Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) for the three school years ending in 2011/2012. It then strips out the influence of socioeconomic factors on student achievement, thereby providing a fair assessment of schools that are doing a great job, or not. “This rating makes sensible use of the PAT data to reveal the best schools,” said David Johnson. “Educators need to focus on what these schools are doing right and find ways to emulate their practices in other schools.”  The study provides two lists of outstanding schools: a list with outstanding results in all three grades; and a second list where there are outstanding results in both Grade 3 and Grade 6. The second list allows identification of outstanding schools where Grade 9 is not taught while Grade 3 and 6 are taught.

Another thought-provoking finding is that charter schools, although small in number, generate much better results when compared to other schools where students come from the same social and economic background.

The C.D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute whose mission is to raise living standards by fostering economically sound public policies. It is Canada’s trusted source of essential policy intelligence, distinguished by research that is nonpartisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review. It is considered by many to be Canada’s most influential think tank.

Click here for the full report.

For more information contact: David Johnson, Fellow-in-Residence, C.D. Howe Institute, and Professor of Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, or Benjamin Dachis, Senior Policy Analyst, C.D. Howe Institute. 416-865-1904; email: cdhowe@cdhowe.org

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© 2014 C.D. Howe Institute. All Rights Reserved.