Grade 12 completion rates for School District No. 8 remain below the provincial average, according to statistics released by the district.
At the last board of trustees meeting in mid-December School District No. 8 (SD8) superintendent of schools Trish Smillie delivered a report on completion rates in the district, compared to provincial rates, for the categories of six-year completion rates, indigenous students and students with diverse needs.
According to the report, the SD8 six-year completion rates — the proportion of students who graduate within six years from the time they enroll in Grade 8 — for the 2020/21 school year saw 85.5 per cent of all students graduate with a B.C. Certificate of Graduation or B.C. Adult Graduation Diploma — almost five per cent less than the 90 per cent provincial average.
But the five-year completion rates comparison for SD8 from 2016-17 to 2020-21 shows an upward trend in completion rates for all students, noted Smillie, including Indigenous students and students with diverse needs.
“Completion rates are one indicator of success for SD8. Results have demonstrated that improvement has been made over the past five years in the overall school completion rates for the district,” she wrote in her report.
“The six-year completion and grade 12 graduation rates are one of several indicators that demonstrates how well the school system is serving its students.”
The SD8 historical completion rates for comparison from 2016/17 to 2020/21 show an increase from a low of 74.8 per cent in 2016/17, 81.6 the following year, rising to 83.5 per cent in 2018/19, and then dropping slightly to 80.5 per cent in 2019/20.
Indigenous student completion rates have been a focus within SD8 to bring them up to par with all student school completion rates. As a result, 75.5 per cent of Indigenous students in SD8 have graduated with a B.C. Certificate of Graduation or B.C. Adult Graduation Diploma, higher than the provincial average of 72 per cent.
Five years ago the Indigenous six-year completion rate was 57.6 per cent in SD8.
For students with diverse needs within the SD8 only 71.9 per cent of them have graduated with a B.C. Certificate of Graduation or a B.C. Adult Graduation diploma, below the B.C. average of 74 per cent.
For students recorded as being in Grade 12 for the first time in September who then graduate in that same school year — first-time Grade 12 graduates — or within five-year completion rates, SD8 show an 83 per cent completion rate.
Smillie wrote that most students will complete high school within the expected five-year period, “some students will take longer to complete their Dogwood (e.g., students who take a year off to play sports or study abroad; or those who require an additional year to successfully finish one or two required courses).”
For Indigenous students in the first time category in SD8, 80 per cent recorded as being in Grade 12 for the first time in September graduated in that same school year, while 76 per cent of students with diverse needs graduated in that same school year.
Getting it done
There are two ways people can achieve a Dogwood:
- successfully completing the provincial graduation requirements — a minimum of 80 credits to graduate — to get a B.C. Certificate of Graduation or “Dogwood Diploma;” and
- for adult learners — who want to take courses to complete high school and obtain their adult high school diploma — there is a B.C. Adult Graduation Diploma, or the “Adult Dogwood,” for people aged 18 years of age and older.
People can also achieve an Evergreen certificate — a school completion certificate — but are not considered graduated in school completion results.
The Evergreen is “intended to celebrate success in learning that is not recognized in a Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood Diploma).”
People in an Evergreen Certificate Program often have special needs and require an Individual Education Plan.
Improving completion rates
Smillie said there is an effort underway to continue to bring the completion rate percentage to a level on par with the province.
Each secondary school is required to develop a three-year graduation plan for each student that is updated and reviewed twice annually by the school and district academic review team.
“The graduation program sets the requirements to exit the K-12 education systems and ensures students are graduating with the knowledge, competencies and skills they will need to transition successfully into higher education, training or the workforce,” she said in her report.
- collaboration and partnerships are supported with local colleges for dual credit programs and bridging strategies (academic upgrading, University transfers, Dogwood completion);
- a continued focus on developing trades training programs and dual credit program pathways;
- individualized support for Indigenous students, including support from an Aboriginal success teacher, educational assistant and Aboriginal youth and family worker liaison;
- wrap-around district-based team that meets monthly with school staff to provide additional supports for individual students with diverse needs to support graduation; and
- improved scholarship opportunities reviewed with an equity criteria.
Timothy Schafer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Nelson Daily