The Coast Mountains School District is developing a plan to increase the success rate of aboriginal students in its schools. There are significant concerns, but data shows the district is headed in the right direction for what is a growing percentage of their students.
Aboriginal students made up 43 per cent of the 2013/14 population in the school district, a proportion climbing since 2000 when they made up only 27 per cent. The shift is because consistent numbers of aboriginal students are enrolling while enrolment from other populations are dropping.
The school district reports some success over recent years with similar numbers of aboriginal and non-aboriginal students passing in some classes. Aboriginals were also on par with others in a specially designed English 10 / First Peoples course, but there are still key challenges for that population.
Over the past five years, fewer than half of the aboriginal students in Grades 4 and 7 who took the provincial foundation skills assessment tests have met or exceeded expectations in reading comprehension, writing, and numeracy.
Over the same period, less than half of the aboriginal students who started Grade 8 completed secondary school in a six-year time frame.
The school completion rate in the school district shows that the number of students overall who have stayed in school and graduated has averaged 69 per cent between 2010 and 2014.
That average drops to 46 per cent for aboriginal learners for those years and in 2013/14, it was 44 per cent.
For students who make it to Grade 12 fully eligible to graduate, an average of 88 per cent successfully did so between 2010 and 2014. For aboriginal learners, the average was 79 per cent.
The school district also notes that over the past five years, the majority of aboriginal students in Grades 6 to 11 are continuing to stay in school and are successfully moving into the next grade.
The school district can track successful transitions if students move to another school within the public school system, but if they leave the province or move to another school system, they are not considered among those who successfully transitioned.
Transition success for all students has stayed fairly stable for the past five years, but is increasing for students transitioning from Grade 11 to 12. For those students, the rate of success was 77 per cent in 2008/09, up to 86 per cent in 2012/13. The aboriginal rate is also rising but at a slower rate – from 65 per cent in 2008/09, up to 78 per cent in 2012/13.