School rankings

School rankings in waterloo region

For many years (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), I would look at the Fraser Institute’s report on school rankings with great interest, because I think good schools and great neighbourhoods go together. Good schools and great neighbourhoods go together like pen and page, like rubber and road, like sun and surf, time and tide, sweetness and light.

You get the idea.

One impacts the other.

Chicken and egg.

I’m not being a snob about it and I’m not saying it is right or wrong. It is demographics. It’s reality.

What came first? It does not matter. It is what it is.


It’s good real estate

As I feel that neighbourhoods are more important than houses, what better way to help clients choose a great neighbourhood than to keep an eye on school rankings. It’s ‘good to great’, just like Jim Collins, benchmarking trends, isolating factors the matter for making decisions.


Five year average

A client mentioned to me the other day that Empire School had “way dropped in the recent rankings”. I told him that I am not concerned at all about that. Empire School has long been a good school and I’m sure the drop can be explained. “Besides”, I said, “I’m only really concerned with the five year averages.” Good schools evolve. It doesn’t happen over night.

This morning, I finally got around to looking at the Fraser Institute Report and I am dismayed to say that the five year averages are missing from the school rankings. What kind of report is this? We want more data, not less.

Anyone who already lives in Waterloo Region knows all about the great neighbourhoods and their corresponding schools. But what about all of the families relocating here? Now are they going to know where to buy?


#1 might just be second best or third or not for you at all

I do not think you have to choose to live in the neighbourhood with the #1 school.

Here’s why.

The rankings are misleading: The school may have a large number of ELS students, or French Immersion, or draw part of their student body from a not so great part of the neighbourhood…Or maybe the administration or the teaching staff could not care less about the rankings or conversely care too much about them. There are likely a bunch of other reasons that skew the data. #1 may actually be #3, #7 or #15 for you.

Just like pricing real estate, there are too many variables to consider. There are too many ways you can go wrong if you only look at the numbers.

Also, being #1 does not matter. The difference between the #1 school at 8.8 and the #10 school at 7.1 is really nominal and unimportant. What’s important, probably is to be in the top half of the schools ranked or the top ten or above a ranking of 5, but being #1, really? You don’t have to be that.


Note: If you are interested in last year’s five year averages, click here (2016).



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