Location, location, location! House hunting is all about location. Families want a clean, safe and friendly neighbourhood and the most important aspect of this is having a good school.
The Fraser Institute compares academics in schools throughout Canada and ranks them in terms of grade 3 and 6 reading and math levels based on the standard EQAO tests. They also look at the last five years of data, noting whether the school has improved or declined. Parents can use these figures to compare schools, which is especially useful when buying a house. You can narrow your search based on where the best schools are in terms of academic performance. Note that the Fraser Institute doesn’t consider other factors that make schools great like teacher ability and compassion, extracurricular activities and parent involvement. But, many of the top schools on the list are touted by parents as being amazing schools, so the ranking can make a difference.
Now here’s the rub… Markham has the exalted privilege of having 8 schools listed in the top 100 out of 3037 total schools in Ontario. The highest ranked school, Randall Public School, takes the 14th spot with a 9.9 out of 10 rating on the Fraser Institute. The school rose this year (2013-14 data) from its previous spot at #85, with only 5.7% of its total tests under the provincial standard.
If you are looking for a home within the catchment area of one of the top-ranked schools, simply go the York Region School Board site for public schools or the York Region District Catholic School Board site for Catholic schools and find their school locators. There you’ll see the geographic boundaries for the school and you can streamline your house hunt this way. For example, Randall Public School is bordered by the 407, Kennedy Road and McCowan and you can simply print a map of the boundaries and hand it to your realtor to aid in your search.
This doesn’t mean you should overlook some of the lower-ranked schools, especially considering that Markham has some of the highest-ranked schools on the list anyway. Lincoln Alexander has a rank of 100, but has had a rank as high as 57 in previous years, showing that it is still a very high-achieving school.
Using the Fraser Institute to do research on your prospective house-buying area is very easy and you can search using a map or by rankings, limiting your search results however you want, for example, by income, ESL, special needs and more.