School District 71 unveiled its 2016-17 graduation rates for Comox Valley students at its monthly board meeting on Feb. 27.
According to Ministry of Education data, which is available on the BC Education’s website, 79 per cent of Grade 12 students in SD71 last year graduated.
This marks a four per cent increase over the 2015-16 graduation rates. The Comox Valley’s five-year range for high school completion (within six years) is 72–83 per cent.
SD71 communications coordinator Mary Lee says the numbers show the district is “moving in the right direction.” She noted one area of success is the district’s increasing graduation rates for Indigenous students and for students with special needs.
“We’re pleased because it’s showing an upward trend. We’re moving in the right direction by closing the gaps between our completion rates for all students compared with Aboriginal students and students with special needs,” she said.
According to the data, 72 per cent of Indigenous Grade 12 students in SD71 graduated last year. The rate hovered in the 50–65 per cent range about a decade ago.
Seventy-two per cent of Grade 12 students with special-needs in the Comox Valley graduated last year, which is a considerable increase compared to a decade ago, when 40–60 per cent of special needs students graduated within six years.
The graduation rates are much higher at the Valley’s three largest secondary schools. In 2016-17, GP Vanier, Mark R. Isfeld, and Highland boasted Grade 12 graduation rates of 94, 98, and 91 per cent, respectively.
Lee says the overall graduation rate for the district was lower due to the lower completion rates for students in Distributed Learning programs, which include homeschooling and distance learning.
“That data you see online is not necessarily reflective of what’s going on in our high schools because it’s a six-year cohort. Distributed learning students don’t necessarily complete [secondary school] from the time they enter Grade 8 in those six years, and that could be for a number of factors,” she said.
The typical range for high school completion within six years across B.C. is 73–85 per cent, according to the ministry’s data.
There were 845 high school seniors enrolled at SD71 schools last year.