Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District’s graduation rate for aboriginal students declined for the third straight year. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District looks to improve aboriginal graduation rates

Fewer aboriginal students graduated last year, reports B.C. Ministry of Education

Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District is “a little disappointed” and reflecting on next steps to get back on track with the latest graduation statistics showing fewer aboriginal students graduated last year.

Ninety-seven aboriginal students were handed diplomas last year, a graduation rate of 52 per cent, according to the B.C. Ministry of Education’s latest completion rates.

It’s the third year in a row the district’s aboriginal graduation rates have slipped and a five-year low; only widening the gap between Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s total student and aboriginal graduation numbers.

Scott Saywell, district assistant superintendent, says the reason for the decline is the loss of two aboriginal outreach program teachers who’d gone door-to-door and in some cases, got kids out of bed, to bring them to school, and the disruption of moving its VAST Learning Centre to a different school due to increasing enrolment. About 70 per cent of VAST students are indigenous and Saywell said some went to the Tsawalk Learning Centre, a local alternative program run by Vancouver Island West school district. He also said small numbers of students makes a big difference in grad rate.

“Except for these last couple years, we were on par with sort of the provincial average … so we’ve done some really good work,” he said. “To see us go down a couple years in a row is concerning and has us sort of taking stock of where to go next, but again, it is small numbers of students.

“We know we can correct that with a little greater focus.”

The top goal of Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District is to improve aboriginal graduation rates and it hit a peak in 2013-14 when 64 per cent of aboriginal students graduated. Since then, the graduation rate has been in decline.

RELATED: Nanaimo school district aboriginal grade rate drops to 56.4 per cent in 2015-16

RELATED: Nanaimo school district taking initial steps to reconciliation

The rate dropped to 58 per cent in 2014-15 and 56 per cent in 2015-16, for example, while the graduation rate of all students was 72 and 73 per cent respectively. In 2016-17, 72 per cent of all students, or 878, were awarded diplomas.

Provincially the numbers of aboriginal high school graduates have climbed, going from 60 per cent in 2012-13 to 63 per cent in 2014-15 and 66 per cent last year. The only time Nanaimo-Ladysmith either met or did better in the last five years was in 2013-14, the ministry’s website shows.

Saywell did tell Black Press he isn’t overly concerned about the district’s rates and overall it’s moving in the right direction by introducing indigenous ways of knowing and learning in schools and changing the “hearts and minds” of teachers and people in the district.

Saywell said when every staff member understands their role in improving the life chances for indigenous students, the district will be at par with the all-student grad rate.

“I can envision within about five years that our aboriginal grad rate is on par with our all student grad rate,” he said. “In the end it just requires sort of an unrelenting focus on improving those outcomes for aboriginal students.”

That the graduation numbers aren’t going up substantially in Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District is disappointing for Chris Beaton, executive director of Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre and a partner in Tsawalk Learning Centre.

Aboriginal content has come into the B.C. curriculum in more significant ways in the last few years, there’s more resources available to support aboriginal students and the aboriginal graduation rate for B.C. is going up, he said.

“It really makes me question what we are missing here from Nanaimo, both from a community and school district perspective,” said Beaton, who believes everyone has a responsibility to come together and have a conversation with parents and students on what more can be done.

He also asks if decisions made by the school district in the last few years need to be looked at, such as not having an aboriginal education principal.

“When someone is left behind it impacts us all. Success of our aboriginal students should be important to everybody: school district, community, families, businesses,” he said.



news@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Ladysmith Camera Club and Ladysmith and District Credit Union combine forces for calendar

Not one, but two versions produced featuring local photographers and local scenes

VIDEO: Mattress fire at Cowichan Hospital under investigation

The Cowichan District Hospital was locked down on Tuesday afternoon due to… Continue reading

Transport truck driver identified as one victim in double fatal head-on crash

Clifford Bishop, 54, a resident of Cassidy, had been a truck driver since he was 18

Manly will give it another go with federal Green Party

Paul Manly to be acclaimed as party’s Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidate

Volunteers needed for Sunday’s Festival of Lights takedown

Volunteers asked to meet at the 49th Parallel Grocery upper parking lot at 9 a.m.

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of B.C. overpass

Dash cam footage shows vehicle speeding across Brunette Avenue overpass in Coquitlam

Second fatal crash occurs in Alberni Valley

Traffic on Highway 4 is being re-routed as investigators are en route

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Most Read