Aboriginal graduation rates up once again 

Still below average, but First Nations graduation rates are up 14 per cent over last decade

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The provincial Ministry of Education reported on Friday, Feb. 15 that aboriginal high school completion rates had reached a 10-year-high in 2011-2012, with a total graduation rate of 56.4 per cent. That's up from 53.7 for the class of 2011 and 50.04 per cent over 2010. Over a decade, aboriginal completion rates have increased by almost 14 per cent.

Some 53 school districts, including the Sea to Sky School District, have five-year Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements with local First Nations and the province, which provides more resources to bring aboriginal culture and history into classrooms.

In the Boundary School District, graduation rates are up 36 per cent, while in Comox Valley the increase is 18 per cent over five years.

"These results show that while there is still much to be done, we are on the right track," said DeDe Derose, superintendent of aboriginal achievement for the province. "Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements, Aboriginal curriculum, bringing elders into classrooms, these are some of the ways we are helping to make aboriginal students feel welcome and valued in our schools."

The overall graduation rate in B.C. is between 79.1 per cent and 81.8 per cent since 2002-2003. The Ministry of Education is running a "Success Rate" pilot program to more accurately measure the percentage of students who graduate and to keep more students in school, which is expected to raise graduation rates higher in the future.

There were almost 64,000 aboriginal students enrolled in B.C. high schools in 2010-2011, accounting for 89 per cent of the student population. That's up from just 7.4 per cent in 2000-2001.

In 2010, Pique Newsmagazine reported that First Nations graduation rates in Squamish were over 70 per cent in 2010, although in the previous two years the graduation rates were under 50 per cent.

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