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Mission school district struggles to raise six-year completion rates

Overall rate stagnant, but significant improvement in aboriginal and special needs graduations.

The Mission school district is making headway on raising the proportion of aboriginal students that graduate high school, but overall six-year graduation levels are stagnant.

In his annual report on achievement released earlier this month, superintendent Bill Fletcher indicated the six-year completion rate for aboriginal students rose by 15 per cent in four years, to 68 per cent in 2012-13, nine points above the provincial average.

There are also significant improvements in completion rates for students with special needs as well as those with behavioural difficulties. About half of students with behavioural disabilities graduate high school, higher than the provincial average. Over the last two years, the district launched several programs to support vulnerable students, including hiring a counselling team and behavioural specialists.

However, 77 per cent of Mission students are completing school, a figure below the 84 per cent provincial average and one that has not improved noticeably in five years.

Grade 4 reading levels are improving, and reached the provincial average for the 2012-13 year.

At the same time, the Grade 7 reading and numeracy test scores have been declining for five years. Grade 10 students are also scoring below provincial average on English, science, and math.

Fletcher noted that the three new programs created last year – the Fraserview Learning Centre, the District Elementary Inclusive Support Program, the District Social Development Program – are seeing success in supporting vulnerable learners.

"We continue to be encouraged by the positive trends seen in the diminishing achievement gap between our aboriginal and non-aboriginal learners in many areas as well as the consistently strong results for all students in many areas," Fletcher noted in the report. "We are encouraged by our Grade 7 to Grade 8 transition. Despite some modest gains in results in areas of literacy and numeracy, the data indicates a need to continue to focus on our Grade 9 to Grade 12 transitions as well as supporting our secondary students on their path to graduation."