Elementary school one of the best

  • Apr. 25, 2011 1:00 p.m.

Sk’aadgaa Naay elementary school in Skidegate is one of the best schools in the province when it comes to aboriginal student achievement, according to a new report from the Fraser Institute. The Fraser Institute’s “Report Card on Aboriginal Education in British Columbia 2011”, released last month, lists Sk’aadgaa Naay as number two out of the 52 elementary schools included. Sk’aadgaa Naay is the only elementary school on Haida Gwaii in the report, presumably because the other schools did not have a high enough enrollment. The report looked at how aboriginal students did on the Foundation Skills Assessments of reading, writing and math skills, which are written by all students across the province in grades 4 and 7. The latest report uses data for the 2008-2009 school year. The aboriginal students at Sk’aadgaa Naay performed well above the provincial aboriginal average on all the tests, and in the case of grade 7 writing and math, their results were above the provincial average for all students. School district superintendent Angus Wilson said Sk’aadgaa Naay has done consistently well on this report, so he wasn’t surprised by the results. He’s also not paying too much attention to them, saying that the school district has far better data about student performance than the Fraser Institute does. “It’s not that I’m displeased with them doing well,” he said. “But I always begin with the caveat that it’s an extremely limited measure… You have to be really skeptical of these things.” Mr. Wilson said Sk’aadgaa Naay benefits from well-organized community support programs and a strong group of teachers who have been at the school for a long time. The report also looked at the achievement of aboriginal students in BC high schools, using data from provincial exams written in 2009 and the graduation rate for that year. G.M. Dawson Secondary is near the bottom of the list of 63 schools; Queen Charlotte Secondary was not included. Although the average exam mark and graduation rate were lower for G.M. Dawson than the provincial aboriginal average, Dawson has been steadily improving on almost all the measures used by the Fraser Institute. The school’s graduation rate was the best it’s been in the past five years, its average exam mark has improved, and the number of exams failed has declined. Mr. Wilson said comparing G.M. Dawson to other high schools in the province on these measures is not all that useful. The local school district is very focused on aboriginal student achievement, he said, and has several programs in place to address it. “Our aboriginal grad rates are on par with, or better than, our non-aboriginal grad rates,” he said, although the overall grad rate for all students here continues to be below the provincial average, something the school district is trying to change. The report is available at the Fraser Institute’s web site.

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