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EDITORIAL: Good numbers for graduation rates
School District 43 was in a tough spot last winter after discovering that it over-spent on salaries and expenses by about $8 million and had to make some tough decisions to bring its budget in line with government funding.
But last year, while it was overspending, SD43 students were doing better than ever — especially aboriginal students, whose six-year school completion rates jumped from 69.8% in 2011/’12 to 89.8% in 2012/’2013. As well, the six-year graduation rate for boys improved by about 4%; for special needs students, it improved about 7%; for female students, the increase was about 3%; and for English language learners, it rose 2%.
Coquitlam school district also did significantly better in graduation rates than the rest of the province, and in comparison to some other large districts, including Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby.
But while the district saw improvement, a trend that has continued since 2008/’09, it still faces challenges getting boys reading and writing at the same level as girls and getting aboriginal students to perform as well as the general population. The differences start as early as kindergarten, when teachers found that a majority of girls (69%) could read at a developing or applying level compared to 66% of boys and 27% of aboriginal students.
By Grade 7, the gap seems to have narrowed but boys and aboriginal students are still behind the girls in writing by 4% for the boys and 8% for aboriginal students. And in Grade 12, the trend continues, with just 53% of aboriginal students scoring C+ or better in English 12, compared to 65% of males and 79% of females.
The concern now is, what will the future hold for vulnerable students with fewer teachers, counsellors and resources in the classroom?
Most of the district’s tough cuts weren’t implemented until this year because the district didn’t want to disrupt classes in the middle of the year so we will have to wait until next year’s achievement report to see if the cuts caused by SD43’s mismanagement of its finances hurt students, or if the district was able to generate similar results with fewer dollars.