EDITORIAL: Graduation rates an issue in Sooke School District

SD62 grad rates lag behind the rest of the province, dropped significantly in 2014

The province’s recently released graduation statistics for B.C. schools, including the Sooke School District, are enough to raise alarm bells in the hallways of SD 62.

The rates of graduation, for students finishing Grade 12 for the first time and those listed as eligible to graduate – that could include students giving it another crack – trail the B.C. numbers by a significant margin and showed a dramatic drop from the previous year.

Among all students listed as first-time Grade 12s in the Sooke district last school year, just 68 per cent graduated in 2014, compared to 80 for the entire province, a figure that includes both public and private schools.

Where the overall B.C. graduation rates for first-time Grade 12s and those eligible to graduate have remained relatively stable over the past five years, the Sooke numbers dropped by six per cent in both categories last year – the “eligible” rate fell to 83 per cent.

Critics of the education system as it is may point to the lower grad rates as a natural result of large classes, with teachers less able to offer personal attention to individual students who may be struggling.

At the very least, it’s a sign that a significant number of young people attending high school on the West Shore will have their post-secondary timeline altered, whether their hope is to enrol at college or university, or join the work force.

While SD62 has tended to post grad rates on the lower end of the provincial list over the years, the recent drop shows more work needs to be done to reverse the trend, especially with two new high schools opening this fall.

The West Shore remains the fastest growing area of Greater Victoria, with more families moving here every year. While comparatively lower real estate prices are a big draw, quality schools are an equally important consideration for families with school-aged children.

With parents able to bypass catchment rules with a relatively simple application these days, it behooves SD62 to act quickly to ensure a downward trend doesn’t continue as Royal Bay and Belmont secondaries start churning out new grads.