Ontario Catholic schools at top of class

By 
  • August 24, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Catholic schools are receiving top marks in Ontario, according to a new study.

In the C.D. Howe report “Ontario’s Best Public Schools, 2005/06-2007/08,” 10 of the top 11 schools, out of about 3,000 publicly funded schools, are from Catholic boards.

The study’s author, Wilfrid Laurier University economics professor David Johnson, compared the provincially standardized EQAO test scores of students from schools in similar socio-economic backgrounds.

“What the data say over the last five years is when you control for the background of students, the Catholic pass rates are higher,” he told The Catholic Register a day after the report was released on Aug. 18.

A “Catholic effect” on students could explain why Catholic schools are doing better, said Johnson. The faith-based environment and the fact parents have a choice of sending their children to Catholic or public school could motivate educators to produce good results, he said. And the school’s attachment to a parish could also create a community which works with the schools.

“The school is doing well because there is a great link between our teaching staff and our students, and our parents are working very well with our parish,” he said.

Each spring, EQAO tests measure student performance in the Grade 3 and 6 level. Among the top 10 schools were Toronto’s St. Michael’s Choir School and Blessed Margherita of Citta di Castello.

St. Charles Catholic School ranked among the top schools in the province. Its principal, Joseph Bellissimo, says he isn’t surprised.

In the past, other provincial studies ranking schools such as the Fraser Institute report cards have proved controversial. Critics have said these reports considered a school’s success based upon a high percentage of students in a school who scored well on the test while not accounting for other factors like socio-economic background. In these reports, schools with the highest incomes have usually done well.

For a copy of the study, see www.cdhowe.org .

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