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School completion rate below provincial average

Year-to-year graduation remains on par with others

Completion rates for students from grade eight to graduation in School District 47 remain below provincial averages, according to numbers from the ministry of education.

Data released by the ministry on school year 2009/2010 shows provincial completion rates are on a slight rise. Across the province 79.7 per cent of students who were in grade eight six years ago had graduated by 2010. This is up from 2009 when 79.2 per cent of students who had been in grade eight six years earlier had graduated. Out of the last six years, rates peaked at 80.2 per cent in 2005/06.

Of all the students in grade eight in Powell River six years ago, 70.5 per cent made it through to graduation either here or in another BC school. Split by gender, 74.2 per cent of female students graduated and 67.7 per cent of males. In 2008/09 the completion rate for the district was 77 per cent, just one per cent below that year’s provincial average.

Among First Nation students, the district had a completion rate of 43.1 per cent. This is below the provincial average of 50.4 per cent, which is up 1.6 per cent from the year before. Superintendent of Schools Jay Yule said that with such low numbers of first nation students in the district the rates can fluctuate considerably from year to year as a result of the progress of just a few students.

“Overall we agree that at the six-year completion rate we’re a little behind the province and in the students that are actually in school we’re around the provincial average,” said Yule. “We’re working on analyzing that completion rate to get specific details on why that is and how we can remediate that.”

Graduation rates are calculated using a six-year time span. The number of students in grade eight six years ago, 2004, is compared with the number of students graduating between 2008 and 2010 to come up with a percentage. Yule pointed out that this means many students who may have been with the district six years ago may have moved away from BC before graduating, which affects the rate.

Looking purely at how many grade 12 students graduated last school year who were eligible to do so, Yule reports a graduation rate of 92 per cent for the district versus a provincial average of 95 per cent. The downside with this number is that it does not take into account students who drop out in grade 11 or earlier.

Yule said that within the school district administrators look at graduation rates specific to individual students. By doing this they can determine how many people dropped out, how many left the district and other pieces of information that can help them come up with a rate and a plan specific to the district.

Students dropping out is the issue that Yule gives the most attention to in relation to the completion rates. Data related to dropout rates is looked at to influence policy and help establish programs. Looking at the six-year rate the district is below the provincial average, but when looking at trends Yule said that it is on par.