The B.C. Ministry of Education has released completion rates in school districts across the province and the completion rate in School District 20, Kootenay-Columbia has been trending up over the past five years and above provincial numbers.
At the end of the 2012-13 school year, 84 per cent of all students in SD20 graduated. In 2016-17, 93 per cent of all students graduated, compared to 84 per cent of all B.C. students in 2016-17.
The district has also increased the percentage of Aboriginal students who graduate.
In 2012-13, 72 per cent of aboriginal students graduated and that increased to 88 per cent in 2016-17. Whereas 66 per cent of Aboriginal students in B.C. graduated last year.
Looking at the data over the past five years, there has been some fluctuation year to year, but SD20 superintendent Bill Ford says that’s in large part due to the small number of Aboriginal students in the district.
“It’s because our numbers are small. So for example, say in a grad class we have 20 kids that identify as having Aboriginal ancestry, if we graduate 19 of those, you get a really high [percentage.] If you graduate 15 of those … that’s still 15 out of 20, but the percentage, it can get skewed so easily just by one or two kids,” explains Ford.
In 2016-17, the district had 37 Aboriginal students and 30 graduated.
And the school district also saw an increased completion rate among special-needs students.
Eighty-eight per cent of special-needs students graduated last year, compared to 60 per cent in 2012-13. In B.C., 69 per cent of special-needs students graduated last year.
Asked what SD20 has done to improve its completion rate, Ford said, “I’ve been in the school district for 10 years and we’ve managed to kind of change the culture of the school district to one that is really focused on learning — and not just learning for students, but also focusing on learning for educators.
“So the board of education has, over that period of time, provided through their budget process funding that has gone into bringing teachers together to talk about instructional practice, to talk about kids and learning, to talk about how it is that we meet the kinds of needs that we see coming into the school system. Because kids today are different than they were certainly when I started my career, for example.”
Ford also credits the fact that everyone working in the district has been contributing.
“Our support workers are exceptional. We’ve been working with CUPE employees,” he says. “So from the first time that the bus driver sees the kid first thing in the morning to how lunches are delivered to those educational assistance and child care workers and so on — everybody knows their role and plays their role, and has played a role in terms of making this story that we have.”
Ford credits the parents as well.
“Our parent community is very supportive of education and we’re thankful for the kinds of parents that we have supported the kids as they make their way through their K to 12 experience,” he added.