Each year, Alberta Education publishes diploma examination results for schools and school authorities. We’ve taken the 2015-2016 data and ranked Alberta highs schools in each diploma course by the percentage of their 3rd year students achieving the standard of excellence on the diploma exams. The academic score for each school is the product of the participation rate (diploma exam participants divided by the number of students in the cohort) and the percentage of diploma exam participants achieving the standard of excellence. It’s roughly the percentage of students who enrolled in the school in grade 10 who 1) completed the diploma course in 3 years and 2) managed to score 80 or above on the corresponding diploma exam. This information is intended to help students, parents, and educators evaluate the academic performance of their high school in comparison to other high schools in the province. We think these rankings are much more straightforward than those produced by the Fraser Institute. Marks don’t tell the whole story, and individual schools should be viewed in the context in which they operate. But a close look at diploma marks does bring up interesting questions, like why do Calgary public high schools consistently outperform Edmonton public high schools, and why are school marks so much higher than diploma marks?
Each circle represents an Alberta high school. The circle’s colour represents its region (Calgary, Edmonton, Other) and its size reflects the number of diploma exams written by students enrolled in the school.
You can use the filtering controls in the top right to change the visualization. For example, you can compare school rankings in individual diploma courses. Or you can compare the results of schools in school authorities by filtering on “Authority Name” or you can compare schools of similar size by using the “Third Year Students” slider. Once you’ve set the filters to include only the schools in your comparison group, the visualization will update.
It’s the product of participation rate and the % of students achieving the standard of excellence on the diploma exam. The participation rate tells you whether a school is steering students into or away from diploma courses. The standard of excellence metric tells you how well students enrolled in diploma courses are doing on the diploma exams. A school with a relatively high participation rate and a low standard of excellence % is doing a good job steering kids into diploma courses but it needs to work on improving academic results. A school with a low participation rate and a high standard of excellence % is aggressively steering students away from the diploma course and toward alternatives. It’s technically not correct to multiply the two metrics. Participation rate is (Diploma participants) / (Grade 10 cohort size – attrition factor). Standard of excellence % = (Students scoring over 80) / (Students writing the diploma exam). Some of the students writing the diploma exam at a school may not be counted in the cohort that is used to calculate participation rate. What we’re doing here is assuming that the standard of excellence % for all students writing the diploma exam can be used for the cohort used to calculate participation rate.