The number of Agassiz and Hope students who graduate high school is gradually increasing, according to data provided by School District 78 Fraser Cascade (SD78).
In the 2018-2019 school year, 75 per cent — or about 92 students out of a cohort of 123 — received high school diplomas within a six-year time frame.
That’s an uptick of about 1 per cent from the 2017-2018 school year, when 74.4 per cent of the 127-student cohort were graduating within six years of starting grade eight.
The six-year completion rate is based on the number of students who graduate with a B.C. Certificate of Graduation or B.C. Adult Graduation Diploma within six years of enrolling in eighth grade in the school district, adjusted for migration in and out of B.C.
“We’re pleased to see a gradual increase in our rates, very slightly from last year, but we are still going in the right direction,” Superintendent Karen Nelson said at the SD78 board meeting on Dec. 17.
However, the six-year completion rate for Indigenous students decreased slightly in 2018-2019, compared to the previous school year. Of 47 Indigenous students, 62.3 per cent or about 29 students received a diploma within six years.
Nelson noted that this is also below the provincial six-year completion rate for Indigenous students, which is 69 per cent.
“We understand that we have further work to do in this area because we need more of our students graduating and completing their high school requirements,” she said.
To do this, she said the board has shared four strategies from the Ministry of Education Learn newsletter with school administration.
The strategies are to respect and integrate Indigenous cultures in classroom teaching, focus on strong literacy in early grades, create a culture of care where students feel welcome, honoured and comfortable, and involve Indigenous families in learning.
“I believe that we’re supporting each of these strategies in our schools,” Nelson said, adding that she would like to see more improvements in the future.
“I believe that reading instruction — literacy — is so important, and our goal is all students reading at grade level by Grade 3. We have all of our teachers on board with that now and our administrators, and all we can do is our very best, and keep supporting our students.”
Overall, SD78 remains below the provincial average of 85 per cent of students graduating within six yeas of starting the eighth grade.