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First Nations grad rates ‘highest’ ever in Richmond

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Aboriginal grade school completion rates are at an all-time high in Richmond, with more than three-in-four students successfully completing their education — 14% above the provincial average.

The data, according to a report presented to Richmond School Board Monday, saw native student graduation numbers improve to 73.8% last year compared to 62.8% five years ago.

District administrator Andrea Davidson said the rates are “the highest that Richmond’s seen.”

The results are, in part, thanks to the addition of a support worker for aboriginal students, and the hiring of two consultants to help teachers create curriculums with larger focus on aboriginal education, she said.

An aboriginal enhancement agreement was signed in 2011, which brought more funding for the district, and the grad results reflect the first year after that extra help was included.

Part of the changes include regular meetings with the parents of aboriginal students to re-establish “trust” lost from the era of residential schools, Davidson said.

Other new support for aboriginal pupils includes taking groups of students to prospective universities to encourage them to attend post-secondary.

Davidson cautioned that with only 250 aboriginal students identified in the district, a small numbers of students graduating or failing could have a large impact on annual stats.

“If one or two students, for whatever reason, don’t experience success one year, it can show up in a percentage,” she said.

“But just because they’re not graduating, and they don’t show up, it doesn’t mean they’re not moving on to be successful in some other aspect.”

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