A Fraser Institute ranking of Grades 4-7 performance in the foundation skills assessment has Cedars Christian topping the list of Prince George and area schools but principal Curtis Tuininga is greeting the outcome with mixed feelings.
For the province as a whole, Cedars is 93rd out of 853 schools.
"We're pleased that our ranking is reasonably high but we believe that the scope of the tests and the Fraser Institute's look at them is limited," he said Monday when the rankings were released.
"And as much as this takes a snapshot of one area of schooling, in terms of why we exist, it is only part of a much bigger picture."
Home to 425 students from kindergarten to Grade 12, Cedars' mission statement is "to educate and equip discerning disciples of Jesus Christ for restorative work in his kingdom."
Tuininga credits Cedars' high ranking excellent teaching and good support from the parents and guardians who send their children to the school. But he also said different schools face different challenges.
"So much of this is a product of school but also of home environment and family and all of that," Tuininga said. "Our colleagues in schools province-wide, both public and independent, they deal all different dynamics in terms of who comes to their school."
The rankings by the Fraser Institute, a right-wing think tank, are based in scores students achieve in three tests to determine levels of reading, writing and math.
Immaculate Conception was ranking second among Prince George schools, followed by Lac de Bois. The three lowest ranked are Morfee in Mackenzie, and Ron Brent and Heather Park in Prince George.
As she has in the past, Prince George school board chair Sharel Warrington dismissed the rankings as a misuse of the information they provide.
"If the foundation skills assessment is going to have value, it shouldn't be used in a way to harm schools or be used inappropriately," she said. "This is to understand how students overall are doing, it's a snapshot, that's basically all it is."
Prince George and District Teachers Association president Matt Pearce said there's reason to believe the way the assessment results are handled will be changed once the provincial election is over.
He understands the NDP is proposing to have a random sampling of students complete the assessments to determine progress while the Liberals have limited themselves to saying they're not in favour of using the results to rank schools.
"We've always said the FSA test is a good tool for determining how effective your curriculum is being," Pearce said. "If that's your goal, and your goal is not to rank and embarrass schools, then the best way to do it is a random sampling of students around the province.
"You don't have to test 50,000 students to get a very comfortable, accurate measure of how your curriculum is doing."
Providing students results to their respective parents and guardians has not been helpful, Pearce argued.
"It's not a test that has given parents very good information, given that they get the results three months down the road and all it tells them is if their child is meeting or exceeding or failing to meet expectations in an area," Pearce said. "It doesn't really give them any information that they can act on."