Richmond graduation rates well above B.C. average

When it comes to graduation rates, the Richmond School District stacks up well against the provincial average.

And according to a report presented to the Board of Education at Monday’s board meeting, while male and female student grad rates in Richmond have remained relatively steady over the past five years, Aboriginal grad rates have risen significantly in that period from 62.8 per cent in 2008/09 to 73.8 per cent in 2012/13.

“It’s definitely something to celebrate,” board chair Donna Sargent said Tuesday.

The district signed an Aboriginal enhancement agreement three years ago, she said, and the district added staff members to deal with grad rates among the Aboriginal community.

Using an integrated approach, and working with Aboriginal leaders in the community, Sargent said: “I think we made progress and it shows in those numbers. But we still have a long way to go.”

Overall, 90.3 per cent of all students in Richmond graduated last year.

That’s a higher figure than in three of the past four years, topped only by the 90.5 per cent in 2008/09, according to the report written by Kathleen Champion, director of instruction and learning services.

In a trend that has remained consistent, more female students graduate than males, though the gap has narrowed from a high of 9.6 per cent during the 2010/2011 school year (when 94.8 per cent of girls graduated to just 85.2 per cent of boys) down to five per cent in the 2012/13 year (when 92.9 per cent of girls and 87.9 per cent of boys graduated).

Meanwhile, the provincial grade rate for all students has risen from 79.2 per cent in 2008/09 to 83.6 per cent in 2012/13.

Between 82.1 per cent of female BC students and 85.4 per cent graduate with a Dogwood Diploma, granted to students who meet the province’s secondary school grad requirements. The graduation rate in BC for males ranged from 76.5 per cent in 2008/09 to 81.9 per cent last year.

Notably, Richmond graduation rates for Aboriginal and Special Needs students far exceeded the provincial average.

Last year, 59.4 per cent of B.C. Aboriginal student graduated, compared to the 73.8 per cent in Richmond.

And among special needs students, 58.7 per cent from BC graduated last year, compared to the 67.6 per cent in Richmond.

Sargent said the district has long had a sharp focus on putting extra money toward children with special needs.

But at Monday night’s board meeting, trustees also noted that some 10 per cent of students aren’t graduating each year.

“We want to get even better.”

Sargent said considering that 62 per cent of students speak a language other than English as their native tongue, Richmond’s English Language Learners graduating rate is also something work celebrating, with the figure at 93.5 per cent this past school year, well above the provincial average of 86.1 per cent.

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