Local students get thumbs up

Local students get thumbs up

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Besides reading and writing, students in School District 53 are excelling in other classes, such as music. Here, Sahij Gill works the trombone at Oliver Elementary School. Lyonel Doherty photoStudents in Grade 4-7 in School District 53 are showing academic achievement above the provincial average, according to a recent report by Superintendent of Schools Bev Young.
Her annual report indicates that reading and writing skills are strong.
“These results are significant because even though our demographics are changing and students are arriving more vulnerable . . . by Grade 4 students are performing above the provincial average.”
Young said Grade 4 students performed 13 per cent above the average in reading and writing, with Grade 4 aboriginal students performing 12 per cent above the average for native students.
Grade 7 Foundation Skills Assessment results show that students are performing nine per cent above average.
“Of significance is that Grade 7 aboriginal students are performing (21 per cent) above the provincial average for all students,” Young said.
Young noted that primary reading results continue to rise. This was supported by a whole class reading assessment where nearly 86 per cent of all primary students were approaching, meeting or exceeding expectations. Overall Grade 4-7 writing scores for approaching, fully meeting or exceeding have improved from 87 per cent to 90 per cent.
The superintendent reported that numeracy skills are improving too. Grade 4 and Grade 7 results are 12 per cent and six per cent above average, respectively.
Aboriginal results for Grade 4 numeracy are 23 per cent above the average.
Challenging areas
While six-year completion rates for aboriginal students is showing slow but steady improvement (54 per cent in 2011/12, up from 47 per cent), the district continues to be concerned as their achievement is significantly below their non-aboriginal peers, Young said.
She stated that a higher than acceptable number of students are not completing, adding the district remains significantly below the provincial average for all students. For 2011-12, the completion rate is 70 per cent, which is down from 73 per cent in 2010-11.
Female students completed at a nine per cent higher rate than male students. “Demographic changes and declining enrolment have been factors in our challenge to increase our completion rates,” Young said.
She reported the transient nature of many families in the district continues to be a challenge in terms of enrolment reports.
Young said the early development indicator assessment shows the district is one of the most vulnerable in the province. In fact, its overall vulnerability rate has risen over the past six months. Despite this, vulnerability rates in the language, cognitive and communication domain have decreased significantly.
“We think this is due mainly to the work done in our StrongStart BC preschool partnership programs.”
Young said the challenge now is to address the other three domains: physical health and well-being, social competence and emotional maturity. The district will do this by providing in-service to early childhood educators working at StrongStart, and working with family support hubs in schools. One such hub was opened at Oliver Elementary School recently.
The Read and Rec summer program is a keystone to early literacy success in the district, Young said. More than 90 students participated last summer, she pointed out.
The superintendent noted that various programs (“Fun Friends” and “Friends for Life”) have resulted in a significant decrease in referrals last fall to child and youth mental health services compared to other years.
Young said the district continues to explore new ways to increase the chances of success for all learners. “As a highly vulnerable/low socio-economic district we believe that it is critical to intervene for success at the earliest time possible.”
Young noted they are doing this by working closely with the region’s early childhood coalition “Communities for Kids” and other partner agencies.

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