Improving students’ reading skills and increasing graduation rates for aboriginal students are two key goals each year for the Vernon School District.
At a recent district board meeting, superintendent Bev Rundell presented her annual report on student achievement, as required by the Ministry of Education.
At 61.1 per cent, the district’s six-year completion rate for aboriginal students continues to be above the provincial average of 53.7 per cent.
“Although we are proud of this progress, we want our aboriginal students to succeed at the same rate as our non-aboriginal students,” said Rundell. “We continue to be concerned and focused on these students and in particular our male aboriginal students.
“We will continue to monitor these results and continue our work with schools to identify those students who may be at risk of not graduating and work to support their successful graduation.”
The district will continue to monitor and track progress of these students.
Transition from Grade 11 to 12 is also a concern, with several structures and initiatives implemented to support learning.
“We will begin to disaggregate the data to show aboriginal male and female,” said Rundell. “We will continue to track and monitor our transition rates to look for patterns and ways to support our students successfully transitioning from grade to grade.”
For all students, the district’s six-year completion rate is slightly lower than the provincial average and has remained in the 78 to 79 per cent range.
“We’ll review individual student data with schools to see who is not completing, with possible reasons why they are not,” said Rundell.
But the district is proud of its areas of improvement: the writing results for Grades 4 and 7 students completing the Foundation Skills Assessment; math 10, foundations and apprenticeship and workplace results were slightly higher than the provincial average, as were Science 10 pass results; and the accomplishments of students in fine arts and athletics continues to excel.
Improving students’ competency in literacy remains one of the district’s primary goals. To that end, the district works closely with its regional literacy coordinator and has strong connections with the community’s Early Childhood Development Coalition that supports the work of the StrongStart Centres. As well, a summer reading program has been offered for Grade 1 and 2 students and has been successful in raising their reading levels. After-school reading programs are also offered at the district’s four most vulnerable schools.
Although an Aboriginal Enhancement Agreement is not yet in place, the district has three aboriginal lead teachers working with schools and individual teachers to embed aboriginal learning across the grade level and curriculum. As well, 13 aboriginal support workers support aboriginal learners academically and culturally.
To achieve a 100 per cent completion rate for all students, the district has six objectives to support this goal: early learning, so that by the end of Grade 3 all students who can read will read at grade level; to increasing the number of students who meet or exceed expectations in reading and writing at all levels; increasing the number of students who meet or exceed expectations in numeracy at all levels; increasing the number of aboriginal students successfully transitioning from grade to grade, and increase completion rates; increasing the number of Grade 10 students successfully transitioning to Grade 11; and working with schools and community to define and measure these objectives.
As well, children in care are closely monitored to ensure their success, via report card information, PM benchmarks (reading assessment), whole class reading assessment and ministry assessments.
“Our director of student support services meets regularly with MCFD staff. And district staff, in their regular visits to schools, ask principals for progress updates for children in care,” said Rundell.