The Abbotsford Board of Education has released a report on student achievement that highlights the district’s above average graduation rates and shows the importance of programs before many children even enter kindergarten.
The report shows that Grade 4 students who participated in one of the district’s 13 Strong Start programs perform, on average, better on reading, writing and numeracy tests than those who do not.
Around four in every five students across the district meet Grade 4 reading, writing and numeracy standards for foundation skills. But Strong Start participants do considerably better, especially in writing, where 90 per cent meet the Grade 4 goals, and numeracy, where more than 84 per cent meet the standard.
“Not all children have the same sort of experience or preparation,” said board of education chair Cindy Schafer. “When the kids are able to do a program like Strong Start, then those kids are better prepared for the next step.”
The district’s numbers are consistent with studies elsewhere that show participation in pre-school programs drastically improves students’ chances of succeeding later in life, particularly when they come from vulnerable families. (With just over 30 per cent of kindergarten students in Abbotsford coming form vulnerable families, the report puts Abbotsford in the middle of the pack in B.C.)
Those foundation skills assessments results also put Abbotsford nearly 10 percentage points above provincial averages, a trend that continued into high school, with Abbotsford boasting a graduation rate near 90 per cent, compared to the provincial average of just over 80 per cent.
Schafer said those rates don’t just reflect success at educating students in class; they also show the district is largely succeeding at keeping students interested in school.
“Part of that is our ability to keep our students engaged,” said Schafer, who highlighted the range of elective programs and trade options offered by the district.
“If we can keep students interested in their learning … then they’re going to stay with us longer.”