School rankings, chickens and eggs

school rankings

For many years, I would closely follow the school rankings as reported by the Fraser Institute. I do believe that the best neighbourhoods have the best schools and that the two things have a way of impacting each other in a chicken and an egg kind of argument.

Schools are not equal

That is true.

I’ve worked with teachers and principals and although they all say that the ranking reports should be taken with a few grains of salt, they also admit that schools are not equal.

Good schools and great neighbourhoods tend to go hand in hand, but they also change over time. I like to look at the five year averages to see how things are trending. For example, I would bet that the school in the East Ward – Sheppard Public School is trending up rather than down. Demographics in that neighbourhood are getting younger, hipper and more highly educated all the time. With parents like these, their children are going to raise the rankings.

That is the egg agreement.

The chicken argument is Laurelwood. It is a highly-rated school and that feeds itself as homebuyers who value education for their children move into or around the region, they move there, raising the rank even higher. There is an expression, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’.

But I don’t agree with my clients who want to live in the top school zone. That is a very narrow view. I suggest that they want to live in the top ten schools zones. The rankings don’t tell the whole picture. Empire School is not #1 but it is in the fabulous neighbourhood of Westmount/Uptown. Brigadoon is not #1 but the homes there are large, expensive, modern and comfortable, not to mention close to the 401. Then there are schools like Keats Way and the newly updated Westmount Public School. Around those two schools, 80% of the neighbourhoods and demographics are fabulous; 20% not so great and this is reflected in the rankings.

Some schools have a higher percentage of ESL students or special needs students at the school. The Fraser Institute rankings don’t accurately reflect this.

Top Ten

That said, here are the top ten schools in Kitchener Waterloo in regards to their five-year averages.


Mary Johnston


Lackner Woods


Lester B Pearson

Abraham Erb


Elizabeth Ziegler


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