From aircraft maintenance engineer to residential house construction, the Vernon School District continues to offer a wide variety of both academic and career preparation programs.
Superintendent Bev Rundell says while enrolment continues to decline, the board is addressing the decline at the secondary school level.
“It’s through a process that will consider how we maximize achievement, choice and equity for secondary students,” she said as part of the district’s achievement contract for 2011 – 2014.
“In spite of declining enrolment, we will continue to enhance student educational experiences through personalized learning.”
She said the district is particularly proud of its career preparation programs as well as the many other choices including: early and late French immersion, Grade 1 to 6 Montessori program, forestry, the RCMP Youth Academy and the Okanagan language.
“This current school year, we offered the First People’s Academy, a cross-discipline approach to Grade 10, 11 and 12 curriculum,” said Rundell.
The new Achievement Contract will have one district goal, she said, “to achieve a 100 per cent completion rate for both aboriginal and non-aboriginal students (Dogwood diploma or Meaningful school completion).
“This will include those students on IEPs who receive School Leaving Certificates. It is our intent that every student will cross the stage with dignity, purpose and a plan for their future.
“All this work is towards our 100 per cent graduation rate. We believe that this is a stretch goal and encompasses all the work we do in our district to improve learning.”
There are a number of objectives to support this goal, including early learning so that by the end of Grade 3 all students who can read will read at grade level; increasing the number of students who meet or exceed expectations in reading and writing; increasing the number of students who meet or exceed expectations in numeracy; increasing the number of aboriginal students successfully transitioning from grade to grade, especially from Grades 9 to 10 and to increase aboriginal completion rates; increasing the number of Grade 10 students successfully transitioning to Grade 11.
To put together the contract, data is gathered from student report card marks, Foundation Skills Assessment results, Grade 10, 11 and 12 provincial exam results, PM benchmarks, whole class reading assessments and aboriginal student success.
“While this statistical information is important to provide some indicators of general accountability for the district, it falls short of describing the complete offerings and accomplishments of the public school system,” said Rundell.
“Daily activities, fine arts, personal interactions and the process of learning are not always statistically measurable.
“This includes learning democratic values, socialization skills, problem solving, sharing, and respecting diversity. These areas are also vital to the educational development of our youth as we help prepare them for the future.”
The district’s goal is to have 100 per cent completion rate for all students. It has been holding at around the 79 to 80 per cent rate.
In 2011, the graduation rate for all students was 79.3 per cent; by the following year it was 82 per cent.
For aboriginal students, it was 61 per cent in 2012, down slightly from the previous year.
“We are still concerned about aboriginal students but the good news is that our completion rates are improving, and we should be very proud as a district.”