Graduation rates climbed this past year for School District 71 students. File photo

Overall grade rates up for Comox Valley Schools

Most starting Grade 12 are finishing out the school year

The increase of Indigenous student graduation rates, as reported recently by Comox Valley Schools, was part of an overall trend of rising grad rates in the past year.

At the latest board of education meeting in November, assistant superintendent Geoff Manning updated the trustees about recent graduation data.

“I just wanted to share some really great news with you,” he told the board of education.

In B.C., this is based on the proportion of students who receive their diploma within six years of when they enrol in Grade 8.

Manning briefly discussed potential issues that can affect the grad rate, such as the effect of students taking courses through the district via distance education but moving before graduation. However, he said they did have the ability to remove those students number to come up with a more accurate reflection of the grad rate. In general, the rate has climbed.

As the district reported in a news release, the figure for Indigenous students was 83 per cent last year, compared with 77 per cent the previous year. The provincial average had been 70 per cent the previous year.

Overall, the graduation rate for last year was 86 per cent. As well, Manning pointed out almost all of the students entering Grade 12 in September finished. In all, 98 per cent of grads eligible to finish Grade 12 graduated from the district, while the number for Indigenous students was 99 per cent.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley’s Indigenous grad rates continue to climb

As superintendent Tom Demeo suggested, this information provides a good idea of how well schools are doing in preparing students to get their diploma on time.

“Those are always important stats for schools to look at because it tells them that if we’ve done the proper prep for students … and they’re in a position to graduate in September of Grade 12, if they complete everything, they do [graduate],” he said.

The district looks further into the results over the six-year time frame, Demeo added, to consider issues such as how many students are moving ahead year to year, whether transition rates are going up or declining, how rates are associated with specific groups, such as males or females, as well as to examine potential reasons to explain the results.

Manning also updated the board on the latest round of Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) exams for students in grades 4 and 7, to measure reading, writing and numeracy skills. He said the participation rate was up over the previous year’s rate. He added the district was brainstorming with principals and vice-principals about how to bring information back to schools to use it as effectively.

Trustee Sheila McDonnell asked about the Province’s evaluating the FSA process, to which Manning responded that he believed the Ministry is looking at how to improve the participation rates around B.C.

“They’ve contacted us and asked us if we have some ideas,” he said.

RELATED STORY: BCTF, school boards giving mixed messaging on FSA testing

The FSA examinations have been a controversial process for several years, with opponents saying the results are misused to rank schools and take up classroom resources.

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