One of the highlights from the board meeting for the South East Cornerstone Public School Division last week was the detailing of the graduation rates in the province. The on-time graduation rate and the overall graduation rate for the division were much higher than the provincial average.  

“We have the on-time, or three-year, graduation rate which currently sits at 87.1 percent, about eight percent higher than the provincial average, and then we have our five-year graduation rate, which is important to us as well, which is about 92.9 percent, which is about seven percent higher than the provincial average,” explained Keith Keating, the Director of Education with the SECPSD. “They’re excellent numbers. What I would say is that they can never be high enough for us, so any time there’s even one student who doesn’t make it, I think we need to do our best to make sure that we put all the support in place necessary for them.” 

When it comes to why the graduation rate is substantially higher than the rest of the province, Keating was quick to point out a number of supports the school division can provide for the students, starting out before they even get enrolled in elementary school.  

“I think some of the things that are helpful here include strong interventions in our early years to make sure they have the necessary skills later on in school to be successful,” Keating stated. “We have a lot of hardworking staff to ensure students are successful with attaining credits and then we have some excellent connections with the community and supportive parents within the school division.” 

While the numbers are high, Keating said they wouldn’t be resting on their laurels, as there is always work to do. 

“We’re always looking for ways to help ensure that our grad rates are higher,” he said. “We’re working on the new PIP, and part of that will focus on teachers collaborating as professionals that will help improve their practice in schools. We’ll make sure that students have a smooth transition into school, between schools and out of schools to post-secondary levels and into the workforce. And then we’re doing some trauma-informed practices in schools to help support students as well.” 

Keating added with everything from early intervention to credit tracking, to support and mental health counsellors in the schools, the division is doing what it can to help students, but he ensured to recognize one particular facet of the school experience as key. 

“Teachers really try to do everything they can to support students as they make their way through the school journey.” 

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