By Neil Corbett – Maple Ridge News
The graduation rate for aboriginal students in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District has shot up well above the provincial average.
The rate is up from 69.9 per cent two years ago to 83.5 per cent for 2016-2017, said Diane Graves, the district principal of aboriginal education.
“I was ecstatic,” said Graves when she saw the stats. “I know we’ve been working hard, and we were hopeful our numbers were increasing.”
The rate is within five per cent of that for non-aboriginal students, she added, “and that is our mandate – to close the gap.”
The overall graduation rate is 87.5 per cent in School District No. 42, and 84 per cent is the provincial average.
The 83.5 per cent rate is well up from the provincial average of 65.9 per cent for aboriginal students. That is a concerning rate, and it is the reason the province funds supports for First Nations students.
Graves heads a staff of 17 aboriginal support workers and five aboriginal resource teachers. They work with more than 1,200 students in the district.
Each district has its own strategy and practices to help aboriginal students through the school system, and Graves said the local school district has a unique approach.
“It isn’t one secret,” she said.
But one of the overarching goals is to create a sense of belonging and school connection.