Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ graduation rates for the last five years. (SD68 presentation image)

Nanaimo’s aboriginal grad rate goes up

New B.C. curriculum features aboriginal cultural elements

With its aboriginal graduation rate the second highest ever, Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is looking to increase the number.

The B.C. Ministry of Education released its annual aboriginal education report in November and it said 62.5 per cent of district aboriginal students graduated with a dogwood diploma in 2017-18. The district saw a historical best in 2013-14 when 63.9 per cent graduated, but numbers have declined in subsequent years, with 52.1 per cent graduating in the 2016-17. The district had 2,505 aboriginal students in 2017-18, according to ministry numbers.

B.C. schools are transitioning to a new curriculum that includes aboriginal cultural elements, and it is a factor, said Ted Cadwallader, school district principal of aboriginal education. The curriculum has shone a light on the importance of including indigenous content, according to Cadwallader.

“In the past, that has happened in bits and pieces and in spurts and in people who are interested in it and in a certain section, Grade 4 mostly, of our curriculum,” Cadwallader said. “Now that it’s spread across the curriculum, everybody’s responsible for including that in their classroom and in the learning journey of their kids and because of that, our teachers have had to reach out to experts, like we’ve had in the district in past years, to figure out how to do that better.”

When asked what the district can do to increase graduation so that it is on par with non-aboriginal students (79.4 per cent), Cadwallader said there are a variety of strategies. Specifically, the district is getting to know each of its indigenous students, assessing whether they’re on a path to graduation from kindergarten to Grade 12 and if they’re not, what’s being done.

“Understanding each and every kid’s specific needs is what we’ve got going on in our data level and working really closely with our teachers and our support staff at a classroom level, so that they have the tools necessary to continue to keep those students on a path to graduation,” he said.

Denise Wood, Nanaimo teachers’ union president, is happy with the results, but said it is difficult to determine the factors for the increase as it is a jump from one year to the next with different students.

“We can’t be complacent and we can’t just be congratulatory … we need to keep working at it and we need to figure out where we’re working at,” Wood said. “What is it that we’re doing that is creating success for students?”

Chris Beaton, executive director of Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, said there is no denying the increase is positive, but more can be done. The grad rates should be on par with one another, he said.

“I encourage the school district to continue its efforts to invite anyone to the table who shows a willingness to be involved,” Beaton said in a message to the News Bulletin. “I encourage the district to continue to look at innovative programs that are culturally relevant and that engage our indigenous students.”



reporter@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Infrastructure upgrades about to get underway on Bowen Road

Nighttime road work to start next Monday, June 8, between old Island Highway and Labieux Road

Resiliency program set up to help Island tourism through ‘grim’ times

Tourism Vancouver Island CEO says 23-25 per cent of tourism businesses may shut down permanently

Column: Vulnerability to global disasters is our own making

For many, needs of the moment take precedence over concerns about sustainability, notes columnist

House burns in Harewood, three people displaced

Dog unaccounted for after house fire Sunday evening

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Island community

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Vancouver Island Regional Libraries to offer ‘takeout’ style services

VIRL will offer the service on a branch-by-branch basis

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Duncan’s Queen Margaret’s School pioneers thermal imaging in school reopening

Private school is first in B.C. to use new tech post-COVID-19

Most Read