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Results ‘shocking’

The latest annual elementary school rankings show disparity between the city’s two school boards, and at least one Catholic board official calls the results “shocking.
The Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board has nine of the city's top-10 elementary schools, according to the latest edition of the Fraser Institute's Ontario elementary school rankings. (Matt Vis,

The latest annual elementary school rankings show disparity between the city’s two school boards, and at least one Catholic board official calls the results “shocking.”

Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board superintendent Omer Belisle admits he was not expecting to see nine Catholic schools listed in the top 10 of the most recent edition of the Fraser Institute’s Ontario elementary school rankings. The report was released Sunday.

“I think it’s kind of shocking to have nine out of 10 (top) schools in the city,” Belisle said. “We’re very humbled by that.”

Corpus Christi Elementary School was the top ranked school in Thunder Bay, placing 447th across the province with a score of 7.7 out of 10.

It was joined by Holy Family and St. Bernard in the top-three with St. Francis, St. Paul, Holy Cross, St. Margaret, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Pius X rounding out the top 10.

Belisle said the report is just one of many the board receives every year and cautioned it is not a definitive measure.

He credited direct teaching strategies and parent engagement for leading to the strong results but added the board looks at both ends of the spectrum and the report can be used as a tool to enhance the learning experience at all schools.

“I think it helps the image but it also helps us realize that we still do have challenges and we work with those schools to put strategies in place,” Belisle said at the Catholic board office on Monday.

“We recognize the challenges and it’s nice to see schools with challenges move up in these results but we fully understand the challenges that exist in a lot of our schools.”

He identified techniques such as district reviews, student achievement meetings and school improvement plans as strategies that are used to focus on improving results.
Nor’wester View was the top school from the Lakehead District School Board, which was listed in fourth with a score of 7.4.

However, the public board had four of the bottom five lowest scored schools in C.D. Howe (4.6), Ogden (4.1), Sherbrooke (3.8) and McKellar Park (2.4) which was the lowest, placing 2,924 out of the 3,030 schools listed.

The report scores the schools based on nine academic indicators and focuses on provincial-standard test results in reading, writing and math from the Education Quality and Accountability Office.

Lakehead District School board director of education Cathi Siemieniuk said the results of the report do not play a factor in significant decisions, such as allocating staffing and supports to specific schools.

While the board examines the EQAO results, which Siemieniuk said was never intended as a comparative measuring stick, they use other information such as student and parental surveys along with classroom assessments as a barometer of school quality.

“I don’t think the ranking is in any way indicative of the quality of instruction that happens in any of our schools,” she said.

“We don’t use these rankings to assess what we believe is the value of our schools...We don’t need a report like this where schools are ranked to help us make those decisions.”

Belisle said parents will occasionally call to discuss the importance and impacts of the results, while Siemieniuk said she had not yet fielded any such inquiries.

The local list:

  • Corpus Christi (7.7)
  • Holy Family (7.6)
  • St. Bernard (7.6)
  • Nor'wester View (7.4)
  • St. Francis (7.3)
  • St. Paul (7.2)
  • Holy Cross (7.2)
  • St. Margaret (7.1)
  • St. Thomas Aquinas (7.0)
  • St. Pius X (7.0)
  • Edgewater Park (6.9)
  • Five Mile (6.9)
  • St. Ann (6.9)
  • Woodcrest (6.7)
  • Vance Chapman (6.6)
  • Ecole Gron Morgan (6.4)
  • Agnew H. Johnston (6.3)
  • Westmount (6.3)
  • St. Vincent (6.1)
  • Gorham and Ware (5.8)
  • St. Martin (5.6)
  • Franco-Superieur (5.6)
  • Valley Central (5.3)
  • Algonquin Avenue (5.3)
  • St. Jude (5.1)
  • St. James (4.8)
  • Claude E. Garton (4.7)
  • St. Elizabeth (4.6)
  • CD Howe (4.6)
  • Odgen Community (4.1)
  • Sherbrooke (3.8)
  • Our Lady of Charity (2.9)
  • McKellar Park Central (2.4)