L.V. Rogers students take part in the annual graduation cavalcade in June 2020. Grad rates held steady in School District 8 despite the pandemic. Photo: Tyler Harper

First-time grad rate holds steady in School District 8

The pandemic didn't negatively impact Grade 12 students last year

The pandemic doesn’t appear to have prevented Grade 12 students from tossing their caps in School District 8.

Annual statistics released by the education ministry show 78 per cent of students who began Grade 12 in September 2019 graduated last year in SD8. That average has not changed for the last three years.

Superintendent Christine Perkins said the steady grad rate is a credit to staff and students during a difficult academic year.

“I’m super proud of our entire district, and all of our teachers and our CUPE staff especially because really, there’s been a ton of pressure on them to make sure we’re all safe, and I think we’ve done it and we’re doing it,” she said. “We’ve been supporting our families and kids as best we can during that time.”

Of the district’s 392 Grade 12 students, 304 graduated last year. Fifty-six Indigenous students graduated, marking the second consecutive year the district has had a 71 per cent rate for its Aboriginal Education program.

Seventy-seven per cent of special needs learners, out of a total cohort of 30 eligible students, also graduated Grade 12 in their first year.

School District First-Time Graduation Rates

But the district didn’t do as well with its six-year completion rate, which measures students’ ability to graduate within six years of beginning Grade 8.

Out of 474 total students, only 74 per cent graduated last year within six years of starting Grade 8. That’s a drop from 78 per cent in 2018-19, and well below the provincial average of 89 per cent, but still an improvement on the district’s 2016-17 average of 69 per cent.

Perkins said the district will study its data to see where students and schools fell short last year.

“Is that literacy? Is it numeracy? What exactly are we looking at? In different schools it’s different things, and we’re focused on that with our professional learning program moving forward,” she said.

“But I honestly think a lot of that will bounce back. I think 2020 was a unique year and we’ve done a good job overall with that.”

Despite the dip, SD8’s Indigenous learners continue to beat the provincial average for six-year completion rates. Seventy-four per cent of SD8 students graduated last year, a five-year high for the district that also tops the B.C. average of 70 per cent.

Smaller cohorts are also represented in the report.

Of the 24 students listed as English language learners, 90 per cent graduated within six years of Grade 8. Sixty-one per cent of special needs students out of a total cohort of 56 graduated, dropping from 73 per cent the previous year.

Six-Year Completion Rate

READ MORE: Kootenay Lake School District requests education ministry make annual student assessments private

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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