Aboriginal students showing improvement in Prince Rupert School District

Aboriginal students in the Prince Rupert School District made improvements in English and in graduation levels.

Aboriginal students in the Prince Rupert School District made improvements in English and in graduation levels, as outlined in the 2012/2013 Aboriginal Education Department annual report.

Debbie Leighton-Stephens, Prince Rupert District principal of aboriginal education, presented the report to the board of education on Feb. 10, along with Roberta Edzerza and Kaarlene Lindsay from the Aboriginal Education Council. The report has been done for the past 12 years as part of the Aboriginal Education Partnership Agreement to celebrate achievements and identify challenges to ensure aboriginal students are successful in their learning.

The board of education was pleased to hear about a number of accomplishments, including improvements in English.

In February 2013, Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) results of Grade 4 reading comprehension showed a five-year high in the number of aboriginal learners meeting or exceeding expectations. The data showed that 63 per cent of aboriginal students were successful in the assessment, up two per cent from the previous year and up 21 per cent from 2011.

Grade 7 reading comprehension did not improve from last year and is down from 2011, 2010 and 2009 success levels.

Grade 4 FSA writing results in writing were up one per cent, with Grade 7 results going up 11 per cent in 2013.

There were also advances in English at the high school level.

In June 2013, the district saw the highest number of aboriginal learners taking English 12, with the proportion of aboriginal students taking the course slowly moving toward the district’s goal of 60 per cent. In 2013, 39 per cent of the students enrolled in English 12 were aboriginal, up from 31 per cent.

All aboriginal students taking the course last year passed with a C- or better, up from 86 per cent in 2012 and 98 per cent in 2011.

“This is the best performance of aboriginal learners in this course to date,” said Leighton-Stephens.

Additionally, the number of aboriginal pupils taking English 12 is growing, with the amount taking Communications 12 decreasing.

There were slight gains in math, however there is still room for improvements.

The quantity of indigenous students meeting or exceed expectations in FSA for Grade 4 numeracy decreased from just over half in 2012 to 38 per cent in 2013, although there was a spike in student success in 2012. Grade 7 numeracy FSA results were marginally up.

The number of aboriginal learners passing Mathematics and Precalculus 10 with a C- or better was 76 per cent last year, up from 71 in 2012, but down from 87 in 2011. The number of indigenous learners taking the course has declined since 2011.

An area of concern highlighted in the report is grade to grade transition, especially in high school.

In the 2010/2011 school year, 81 per cent of aboriginal students successfully moved on from Grade 10 to 11, which dropped to 74 per cent in 2012. The lowest percentage of aboriginal learners moving into the next grade was seen in Grade 11 students, with 68 per cent moving on to Grade 12.

However, last year the most indigenous learners graduated in their first year of Grade 12 in the past five years. In 2013, 66 per cent of aboriginal students who entered their final year of high school for the first time successfully competed it. This is up from 54 per cent in 2012.