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Students from Osoyoos and across entire school district are excelling in reading and writing
Many students in School District 53 are surpassing the provincial average in reading and writing, according to the latest report on their academic achievement.
Superintendent of Schools Bev Young delivered the encouraging news during a recent board meeting, where she presented her mandatory report on student achievement.
What Young was particularly proud of was the narrowing gap between all students and aboriginal students in reading and writing. She also noted improving results for aboriginal learners at the elementary level, and in school completion rates.
Young reported the aboriginal six-year completion rate went from 54.2 per cent to 66.7 per cent. The completion rate for all students improved from 70.3 to 73.6 per cent.
Young attributed this success to giving students more options, which bode well for their future.
The achievement report shows that 80 per cent of Grade 4 students meet or exceed expectations in reading, compared to 72 per cent provincially.
Seventy-seven per cent of Grade 7 students are meeting or exceeding expectations in reading, compared to 66 per cent provincially.
Aboriginal results for Grade 7 reading are 66 per cent as compared to 48 per cent for the province.
Eighty-seven per cent of Grade 3 students (80 per cent of aboriginal students) met the standard for reading – up from 69 per cent.
Seventy-three per cent of Grade 4 aboriginal students are meeting or exceeding expectations, compared to 56 per cent provincially.
While the district’s pass rates for English 10, Mathematics 10, Science 10, Social Studies 11, English and Communications 12 are high, marks could improve in the percentage of students receiving C+ or higher, Young said.
She noted that male students are earning a C+ or greater at a rate significantly below female students in English 10, Mathematics 10, and English 12.
Sixty-three per cent of Grade 10 students indicate they try their best at school “many times” or “all of the time.”
Fifty-one per cent of Grade 7 students and 38 per cent of Grade 10 students indicate that they participate in activities outside of class.
“While these results are not declining, they are of concern,” Young said.
The superintendent noted that although completion rates are improving, the district is still below the provincial average for all students.
“We should not be satisfied until our aboriginal students are at least on par with the general population.”
Young said there is a continued need for social and emotional support for some students who are confronted with barriers that impede their success.
Another challenge is the transient nature of many families in the district, Young pointed out.
She noted that a significant number of students move multiple times, with many moving out of the province to Alberta.
Young attributed summer reading programs to preventing “summer side syndrome.” These programs help pupils start the fall year with the necessary readiness for success.
Young also commended early learning partnerships for providing pre-school and after-school care in the community.
The Roots of Empathy program is also continuing to flourish in the district, Young pointed out.
For example, the district has expanded the program to an alternate class in Osoyoos Secondary School (Grade 8-9).
Young said the district has moved away from an exclusively student support program to a program with a high degree of cultural integration.
“We believe that by increasing the understanding of aboriginal culture and issues with all players in our system, we will create better relationships for all.”
Young said there is a heightened awareness across the district regarding the importance of social and emotional learning. Many schools have implemented programs to address this across all grades.
Young noted that connections with mental health and other outside service providers are becoming stronger.
“Plans for early 2014 include a review of the entire school/mental health referral system and the creation of a mapping process.”
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.”
This is being done through StrongStart programs and pre-school partnerships in every elementary school.
Young said a new daycare has been established at the new Neighbourhoods of Learning facility at Southern Okanagan Secondary School.
Special to the Times