The Bounty of the Fraser Institute.


February 7, 2011 by readlisaread

Well. Today was the day British Columbians were gifted from on high, the day the Fraser Institute blessed us with the treasure that is their statistics. Today we learned which schools in BC were the best (ie, performed the highest on Standardized Tests) and which sucked.  Of course, if you suck, the Fraser Institute is quick to reassure you that it is not really about the sucking, it’s about working towards sucking less next year.


So, not surprisingly, all the schools in the top 10 were private schools. I went off on one earlier this year about the suggestion that teachers receive merit pay based on their achievement.  But don’t worry!  The Fraser Institute was quick to commend a public school, flailing about near the bottom of the list, which had raised its test scores several percent over last year, and the Institute was quick to point out that socio-ecomomic status of that school was low–most families in the 22-26K bracket.  Jeez, thanks for pointing that out and naming that school in the News.  I’m sure they feel super-duper about themselves now.

But wait, there’s more.

A surprise placement, a first time in the Top 10.  The school located in the Polygamous  Community of Bountiful. Stellar test scores. Unfortunately, they also have one of the lowest graduation rates in the Province, and have particularly abysmal results for girls, who are steered away from Math and Sciences and instead take a lot of Domestic Sciences. Like cooking for your husband (“Make Tuesday Nights Count 101”).  The other part of this is of course the Magic of Statistics. Let’s say Bountiful achieved test scores in the 97th percentile.  Those are calculated from the yearly grade 4 and grade 7 FSAs. The whole of Bountiful school is about 100 kids. Even if they included both the grade 4s and 7s, that would still only be, well, let’s put this in a non-numerical way: Mary, John, Johnny, Jacob and Lotty-Mae. (Ezekial was absent that week with tonsillitis).   So, yeah, numbers don’t lie, but they sure can be misleading…..

I’d laugh if it wasn’t so tragic.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by LisaRead and Chris Wejr, Tara Ehrcke. Tara Ehrcke said: RT @MrWejr: BOOM! RT @LisaRead: The Bounty of the Fraser Institute: #bced MUST READ! […]

  2. Corina says:

    You rock. I always get up tight when the Fraser Institute publishes their stats – especially after working in North Carolina where schools were financed by test scores; scores were manipulated; whole schools taught to tests; and where principals abolished science, socials, and recess to maximize target ‘learning’ time. Argh.

  3. readlisaread says:

    Thanks for reading, Corina! I am so frightened that we are being forced down the path of The Way of the Great State of Texas. We’ll see…..!!

  4. Sherry says:

    Thanks Lisa – I always enjoy your blogs! Again, this just proves to us “professionals” who know a thing or two about tests that the FSA clearly lacks reliability and validity. And the winner is Bountiful, the school that defies accreditation ( wild applause), and disregards prescribed outcomes (uncontrollable laughter)! Cue Little House on the Prairie music……

  5. readlisaread says:

    Thanks for the comment, Sherry. I think the main thing that shocks me is that the majority of people don’t seem to feel the same way we do. Even members of my own family will say “Oh, well, testing is Important, though……”


    Maybe we’ll keep spreading the word, maybe they will get it….

  6. Sixth Estate says:

    According to the Globe & Mail, the Bountiful high school isn’t allowed to award diplomas even to the students it does graduate (see here). So I’d say that’s hardly the sort of school people should be emulating.

    The Fraser Institute report says Bountiful claims 22 kids in Grade 4, which is on the small side but not out of range of other rural schools. I do have to wonder at its stellar performance, though. Hopefully that bizarre outlier shocks a few people into rethinking the usefulness of these tests.

  7. readlisaread says:

    Well said, and thank you for the link. I imagine those numbers are a bit more accurate than mine, but I tend to get a little sarcastic when I’m fired up, and this is a Hot Button topic for me, for sure. Thanks again for the comment, and for reading!

  8. Sixth Estate says:


    Well, it hardly matters whether they have 5 or 22 kids in grade 4. According to that article they can’t manage to graduate a quarter of them. It does make me a little bit suspicious about the administration of the test there, but the main point is that the Fraser Institute is saying a K-12 school with no power to give out diplomas and an abysmal dropout rate is a “perfect” school.

  9. readlisaread says:

    Oh, I have “suspicions” all over the place with regards to this school’s results! I will say this, however, A few years ago I was presenting at the Northwest Math Conference when is was held in Victoria, and three teachers from Bountiful were there. It was absolutely surreal seeing them in their full ” Mormon” dresses, boots and hair, sitting beside me operating T1 math calculators. I remember thinking then “Wow, at least they are up on the technology!”. Like I said, a surreal experience.

    Indeed, the Fraser Institute has made itself completely irrelevant with the publication of this “success” story.

    thanks again for reading and commenting–stop by any time!

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