SD73: Grad rate at 82 per cent

Tim Petruk – Kamloops This Week

The Kamloops-Thompson School District has given the province an F in math.

SD73 board members passed a motion on Monday night (April 18) that will see district completion-rate numbers tallied in the Tournament Capital instead of the provincial capital.

According to figures released in November by the Ministry of Education, 79 per cent of district students graduated high school within six years of starting Grade 8.

But, after SD73 crunched the numbers on its own, that figure rose to 82 per cent.

“There’s a lot of problems with this data [from the province],” said district superintendent Terry Sullivan.

“We’ve made those concerns known. We’ve written them.

“We’re going to depend on our own data. I think a lot of the problems were systemic in the data itself.”

SD73 district principal Bill Hamblett said there were a number of flaws in the ministry’s calculation of completion rates.

Hamblett said international students, exchange students and even Kamloops Blazers’ players had a negative impact on the data – but not because they were dropping out of school.

“The ministry sees these [students] as non-grads,” he said, explaining the students generally return to their hometowns and complete Grade 12.

But, because in many cases they are leaving B.C., the students fall off the ministry’s radar and are then classified as non-grads by the province.

Sullivan said the discrepancies have created problems for the district when it comes to implementing programs to increase completion rates.

“We’ve had enough of trying to apply these programs based on data which is flawed,” he said.

“The first step is having good data. I think now we’ll do our best to act on that data.”

According to SD73 figures, 82.6 per cent of girls completed high school within six years of starting Grade 8.

That number dropped slightly, to 81.4 per cent for boys, 62.8 per cent for ESL students and 58.3 per cent for First Nations students.

However, even those numbers might not be totally accurate.

The board heard the re-calculated figures still don’t account for students who complete their Grade 12 by upgrading at a post-secondary institution, such as Thompson Rivers University.

Hamblett said the majority of students who don’t complete Grade 12 move straight into the workforce.

“Through a variety of life circumstances, they move into employment,” he said.

“It’s not like they’re sitting at a desk, pounding their fists trying to complete.

“My sense is the ones who did stay in the community went into work.”

The average completion rate for B.C. school districts is just under 80 per cent.

SD73’s target completion-rate number is 85 per cent.

 

In addition to using its own completion-rate calculations in future years, SD73 is also going to write a letter to the Ministry of Education, informing staff there about the issues with its calculations.

Tim Petruk – Kamloops This Week