Importance of School Zones

As a parent or soon-to-be parent buying a home, your child’s education is an important factor when deciding where to relocate. Standardized tests are the most common way to measure the quality of a school. Below are common ranking systems and how they should be viewed.

What is an EQAO rating?

Standardized testing occurs across Ontario in grades 3, 6, and 9, administered through the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). These tests assess how well the public education system is developing students’ literacy in reading, writing, and math.

From there, EQAO rates each school out of 10. Keep in mind that, when considering a school’s EQAO score, it is only rating the students of particular grades in that year. While it is reflective of the student population and quality of the teachers and education, it is by no means a perfect measure. There are many fantastic teachers at schools with low EQAO ratings. Realistically, the quality of teachers hasn’t been correlated to these scores, but parental education and income has been, so the scores are a reflection of the parents in the area more so than the teachers.

There are similar standardized tests in other provinces across Canada.

What is the Fraser Rating?

The Fraser Institute examines standardized test data, as well as other factors that affect the school: programs for children with special needs, availability of French immersion, and even parents’ income (when available). This data is combined to create a school rating out of 10, as well as a relative ranking of all the schools in that province.

Fraser ratings are only available for Alberta, BC, Ontario, and Quebec.

How should you use this data?

Considering your child’s future, or even thinking about having kids while living in your next home, is so important. Education does vary by school and district; and with no other measure than the Fraser and EQAO rankings, they are often used by parents when purchasing a home.

Your best course of action is to use these rankings but also to physically visit the school and ask questions, if possible. Find out if the school matches your home values and practices, and if there are opportunities for struggling or gifted children.

There is also a correlation between real estate prices and school zones in most areas. It could be that higher real estate helped raise the quality of the schools, or the opposite, that great teachers and schools brought up the average real-estate value of the neighbourhood. Either way, if you’re looking at areas with top schools, expect to pay a premium.