Local boards see slight uptick in high school graduation rates
NATALIE PADDON Hamilton’s public and Catholic boards are seeing a slight uptick in the percentage of students graduating high school within five years, new figures from the province show.
More than three-quarters of Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board students — 78.8 per cent — finished high school within five years, according to 2016 numbers, compared to 78.2 per cent the year before.
At the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, 86.4 per cent of students graduated in the same time frame, up from 85.4 per cent in 2015.
Overall, both boards came in lower than the provincial five-year graduation rate, which is 86.5 per cent.
Director of education Manny Figueiredo said HWDSB is pleased to see the graduation rates increasing but stressed this year’s results aren’t good enough.
“We can do better,” he said, noting the public board’s rates are in the bottom third across the province.
Figueiredo noted the board is trying to tackle the issue with long-term solutions, like making sure students are reading by Grade 1, as well as short-term plans, such as intervening in Grade 9 when it comes to addressing struggles with reading and math.
The Ministry of Education also tracks the percentage of students who graduate in four years, which was 79.6 per cent provincewide.
Hamilton’s four-year graduation rates were 70 per cent for the public board in 2016 — the same as 2015 — and 79.8 per cent for the Catholic board, up from 79.4 per cent the year prior.
“Obviously, we’re pleased and very, very proud of our students,” said Catholic board chair Pat Daly. “Our goal is to continue to see improvement.”
Daly pointed to the dedication of staff and the expansion of co-op and specialist high-skills-major programs as having helped boost the rates.
Both boards also do their own calculations, which only include students who stay at the respective boards until graduation.
The ministry, on the other hand, compares the number of students who began Grade 9 within a certain school year to the number who graduate four or five years later even if they do so in other boards, excluding students who moved out of Ontario.
According to the public board’s calculations, the five-year high school graduation rate rose to 81 per cent, up from 80 per cent in 2015 and 79 per cent in 2014. The board does not track how many students graduate within four years.
The Catholic board’s five-year high school graduation rate was 89 per cent and the four-year rate was 83.4 per cent in 2016, said Daly.