Anne Tenning, Nanaimo school district vice-principal of aboriginal education, said students of aboriginal and First Nations decent are transitioning from grade to grade well, but are hitting a wall in Grade 12. (KARL YU/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo school district aboriginal grad rate drops to 56.4 per cent in 2015-16

Aboriginal graduation rate for Nanaimo district was at 63.9 per cent in 2013-14

Nanaimo school district and stakeholders are seeking to reverse declining aboriginal graduation rates.

While the district hit the 63.9 per cent mark back in 2013-14, the grad rate has seen a two-year decline, dropping to 57.7 per cent in 2014-15 and most recently to 56.4 per cent in 2015-16.

Nanaimo school district’s overall graduation rate for 2015/16 was 72.6 per cent.

The overall provincial 2015/16 graduation rate was 83.6 per cent, while the aboriginal rate was 63.8 per cent.

The aboriginal cohort of students expected to graduate in 2015-16 was 204. Anne Tenning, district vice-principal of aboriginal education, said a few students could have an impact on the overall percentage and the district isn’t overly concerned because of that.

“When we look at our aboriginal six-year completion rates over the past five years, with 2011-12 having a [49.9 per cent] completion rate and we’re still, over the five years, averaging 56.8, so it still is going up overall,” said Tenning. “We know that there’s great room for improvement with that number and we do hope to see it continue to go up, but we’re still happy with direction that it is going.”

Support for secondary school students include aboriginal education teachers and staff and Hul’q’umin’um classes. Tenning said aboriginal students are transitioning from grade to grade successfully, but are hitting a wall in Grade 12.

The district isn’t sure why Grade 12 is a stumbling block, Tenning said, but it wants to focus on support for Grade 12 to ensure students see their schooling through to the end. Currently, there are three aboriginal education support teachers for the district’s six high schools.

“Our plan for next year is [aboriginal education] has given additional time to those aboriginal support teachers so that they can be at one school full time. Not full time out of Ab-Ed; about three-quarter time Ab-Ed and the rest of the time the hope is they’ll get some regular teaching blocks at the high schools … so there’s a greater daily continuum of support,” said Tenning.

More teachers are headed to the district following a Supreme Court of Canada decision related to class size and composition, and while Tenning said it won’t affect aboriginal education staffing specifically, it will be beneficial.

“The aboriginal education program is funded through targeted dollars which is a completely separate set of funding … Generally, it’ll have an anticipated benefit for all students in that it’s addressing class size and composition. So hopefully, it will create improved learning conditions for all students, including those of aboriginal ancestry,” Tenning said.

Chris Beaton, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre executive director, doesn’t know why the rates are declining, but said a comprehensive engagement process with aboriginal families, students and community organizations is needed.

“I think it’s a question to the entire community, not just the school district, but to say, ‘What more can we be doing?’ because this is not something we want,” said Beaton. “We don’t want to see this downward trend. We know that we’re still 25 or 30 per cent below the provincial grad rates for all students and it’s just not acceptable. We were hoping to achieve parity and again, we’re going in the wrong direction.”

reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Just Posted

Tilray to become medical marijuana supplier to Shoppers Drug Mart

Deal contingent on Shoppers Drug Mart receiving Health Canada approval

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

School bus route changes considered in Nanaimo, Ladysmith

First bus route review released by Nanaimo school district

Nanaimo RCMP seek woman who allegedly bought $70 of ice cream in stolen card case

Purchase said to have occurred on Jan. 11 at 2 a.m. at Nicol General Store

City council gives go-ahead for new affordable seniors’ housing

57-unit, four-storey building to be constructed at 20 Prideaux St. in Nanaimo

Foundation helps Nanaimo teen fulfil tropical getaway dream

Rachael Theriault, who suffers from Type 1 diabetes, headed to Mexico

Beefs & Bouquets, Jan. 18

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Renowned Comox Valley sasquatch researcher passes away

A renowned biologist and leading Canadian sasquatch researcher who called the Comox… Continue reading

Nanaimo marches for women’s rights

Nanaimo Women March On happens Saturday, Jan. 20

City of Nanaimo chooses this year’s 11 public art pieces

Rock Dragon, Big Bird, and the Jester are some of the selected proposals for 2018

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Double-doubles and demonstrations: Employees rally outside Tim Hortons

Protests held in response to Ontario franchise owners cutting employee benefits and breaks

Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Stephen Paddock was behind the gunfire that killed 58 people including two Canadians

Most Read