Nine schools from Eastern Ontario cracked the top 100 in the annual Fraser Institute rankings comparing elementary schools, with schools in Arnprior and Merrickville topping the list. The institute came out swinging against critics saying the ranks do not take cultural factors into account.

Students from 2,742 English, French, public and Catholic schools in Ontario are all listed against each other based on standardized reading, writing and math tests.

"The report card is the only easily accessible, objective tool that helps parents assess the performance of their child's school," stated Peter Cowley, the Fraser institute's director of school performance studies.

"In the spirit of encouraging academic excellence, the report card also offers educators the ability to compare the academic performance of their school to others with similar characteristics, helping them identify areas in which improvement can be made."

Comparisons across incomes are valid: Institute

Yet critics express concern that schools from all sectors are grouped together -- including those from low-income neighbourhoods, those with immigrant students who may not speak English well yet, and those that emphasize bilingualism or other skills that are not measured on the standardized test.

In response, Cowley pulled the data from two Toronto-area schools: Hillcrest -- whose parents have an average annual income of $108,400 -- and Cherokee, where students' families have a take-home income of just $46,500.

The schools each have a third of their students in special-needs programs, have around the same number of students and don't have ESL students.

"Opponents of school comparison would say it's unfair to compare these schools because Hillcrest is located in a higher-income neighbourhood and that gives its students an academic advantage," Cowley stated, pointing out that the results did not show that: Cherokee was ranked at 177 against Hillcrest's 997.

"This is a stark contrast in academic achievement and one parents and educators should find disconcerting. Why is the lower-income school performing better than the higher-income school? What are teachers at Cherokee doing and what can other teachers learn from their experience?"

The Fraser Institute is a conservative think-tank, which examines research and education, with offices in Canada and the United States.

Eastern Ontario rankings

The top schools ranked in Eastern Ontario (all ranks represent ties):

  • 1st: John XXIII Separate School, Arnprior 
  • 1st: Merrickville Public School, Merrickville
  • 25th: St. Joseph's School, Arnprior
  • 25th: école élémentaire catholique Laurier-Carrière, Nepean 
  • 45th: Westminster Public School, Brockville
  • 58th: Stephen Leacock Public School, Kanata
  • 71st:  Osgoode Public School, Osgoode 
  • 78th: Winston Churchill Public School, Kingston
  • 98th: Abraar Private School, Ottawa 

The bottom schools ranked in Eastern Ontario were (all ranks represent ties):

  • 2670th: Immaculate Conception Separate School, Cornwall
  • 2686th: Centennial Public School, Ottawa 
  • 2692nd: Queen Mary Street Public School, Ottawa
  • 2704th: Ahkwesahsne Mohawk School, Cornwall 
  • 2715th: Bishop Macdonell Separate School, Cornwall 
  • 2726th: Frontenac Public School, Kingston
  • 2731st: St Peter's School, Cornwall 
  • 2735th: Queen Elizabeth Public School, Belleville

To find your school in the rankings, follow this link.