Things are improving in the Fraser-Cascade School District (SD 78).
Six-year graduation rates have increased 10.7 per cent since last year, bringing them from 63.7 per cent to 74.4 per cent.
Aboriginal completion rates also improved, rising seven per cent to 64 per cent.
“A great deal of credit has to go to our high schools,” said Kevin Bird, SD 78’s assistant superintendent. “Every student is potentially a non-grad, depending on what’s going on in their life, so if a high school is doing exceptional things, grad rates do go up substantially.”
Hope Secondary School (HSS) has been working with a new model of education for students who require extra help: a push-in model versus the traditional pull-out method.
When a student needs help, the education assistant goes into the class rather than singling out children by removing them from the class.
“There’s a huge benefit to the whole class, and we’re just starting to see the strength of (this) model in these graduation rates and the trend across the district.”
For a number of years, SD 78 has also been working on other strategies to improve graduation rates across the district, including addressing issues outside academics through a network of wraparound services.
A wraparound service strategy is important “because it takes more than just school to help kids move forward,” Bird said.
Bird said it takes a joint effort by community partners such as “Health Services and Recreation Service, who has just been fabulous. And the ease with which these organizations are working together is going to be a real boon for our students.”
The district has also been making “huge investments in the middle years,” and Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) results for Grade 4 and 7 are showing a correlating improvement.
“I would also point to the level of community support,” Bird said.
“What’s unique in our town is how well these services work together, (which makes it) easy for our youth coordinator to help kids connect with the services needed.”