School districts earn top marks
Catholic, public and Sturgeon schools above average in most measures
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 06:00 am
St. Albert schools were celebrating top marks from the province this month as their students continued to graduate in droves.
Alberta Education released its 2012-2013 accountability pillar results earlier this month. The results track school performance based on 16 measures, including diploma exam results, high-school completion rate and parental involvement.
Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools scored about five percentage points above the provincial average in all areas, said superintendent David Keohane, and were amongst the best in the province.
“We truly are at the head of our class at the local and provincial level.”
About 81 per cent of St. Albert Catholic students finished high school within three years of starting it, the report found, or about six points more than the provincial average of 75. About 91 per cent reached the acceptable standard on diploma exams (up four points from last year, and about six points above the rest of the province), and about 70 per cent qualified for the Rutherford scholarship (compared to 61 per cent provincially).
Many students find they need to upgrade their high-school marks to qualify for post-secondary, Keohane said, when asked about the 18 per cent of students that didn’t graduate.
“It is very important we support career counselling for students,” he said, and give them more flexibility in their timetables through online courses and the Flex program (which lets students complete a course at their own pace).
St. Albert Public Schools was also above average, with about 78 per cent of its students graduating within three years.
That rises to about 84 per cent after four years, said associate superintendent Krimsen Sumners.
“Kids are busy,” she said, and nowadays many take longer to finish school due to sports or academic upgrading.
About 86 per cent of St. Albert Public students got acceptable scores on their diploma exams, Alberta Education found, while about 68 per cent qualified for the Rutherford.
“We’re seeing some great improvement in Physics 30,” Sumners said, with about 14 per cent more students than in 2010 reaching the acceptable standard. “Our teachers have worked hard to close the gap.”
The district plans to work harder on its social studies courses, Sumners said, as it was two to five points below the provincial average on those diploma exams. It will also keep a close eye on math (for which it was on par with the province), as it has recently switched to a new math curriculum.
About 76 per cent of Sturgeon School Division students graduated after three years, the province found, with about 91 per cent scoring acceptable or better on their diplomas and 61 per cent qualifying for the Rutherford.
However, the province also found that the school’s six-year transition rate (the rate at which students transition to post-secondary within six years of starting Grade 10) had “declined significantly,” dropping to 52 per cent from about 61. The provincial average was 60 per cent.
This score was a tough one to address, said Wolfgang Jeske, the division’s director of curriculum instruction, as a lot can happen in six years, and not all students want to go to post-secondary.
“All the other factors seem to be improving,” he continued, and the district’s transition rate has been pretty consistent in the past.
“At this point, it’s hard to determine if this is just an anomaly,” he said, although he personally believes it to be one. The district will investigate to see what might have caused this drop.
The district also plans to launch a student-led research project into graduation rates later this fall, he added.
Accountability reports for local districts are available on request from district representatives.