The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

March 31, 2011 09:31 ET

The Fraser Institute: BC Aboriginal Students Falling Well Below Average in Academics, With Little Improvement in Past Five Years

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwire - March 31, 2011) - Aboriginal students in British Columbia continue to trail their non-aboriginal classmates in all subject areas, with no significant improvement over the past five years, according to a new report released today by the Fraser Institute, Canada's leading public policy think-tank.

The Report Card on Aboriginal Education in British Columbia 2011 shows that aboriginal students are, on average, about twice as likely as non-aboriginals to receive a failing grade on a provincial exam, or not graduate on time.

"There is a considerable and persistent gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students in terms of academics," said Peter Cowley, Fraser Institute director of school performance studies and co-author of the report card.

"What's most disturbing is that aboriginal test scores haven't improved over the past several years. What's being done to help aboriginal students catch up to their classmates? Whatever it is, it's clearly not working and a new approach is required."

The Report Card on Aboriginal Education in British Columbia 2011 ranks 52 BC elementary and 63 secondary schools based on six key indicators of aboriginal student performance, including average exam results in multiple subject areas and transition and graduation rates, derived from data provided by the BC Ministry of Education.

"The report card is much more than a 'snapshot' of school performance in a single year. Where data are available, it shows school results for the past five years, indicating whether a school has improved or declined in terms of the education of its aboriginal students over time. Call it a 'motion picture' that everybody needs to see," Cowley said.

One purpose of the report card is to put the spotlight on schools that have improved, and encourage them to share their recipe for success. Peter Skene Ogden Secondary of 100 Mile House, for example, has enjoyed a significant improvement in aboriginal academic results, climbing to an overall rating of 6.9 in 2009 from 3.0 in 2005, while Bayview Elementary of Nanaimo improved its overall rating to 5.4 from 2.8 over the same period.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, three schools which ranked among the bottom 10 in 2004—George M. Dawson Secondary of Masset, John Barsby Community School of Nanaimo, and Nisga'a Elementary/Secondary School of New Aiyansh—remain in the bottom 10 this year.

"If Peter Skene Ogden Secondary and Bayview Elementary can help their aboriginal students do better, then the same is possible for other schools across British Columbia," Cowley said.

"Every school is responsible for ensuring that its students acquire the skills and knowledge they need, without falling behind. The Fraser Institute's report card is the only source for critical, contextual information about the performance of aboriginal students year to year—and the results make it clear that BC's current approach to aboriginal education is disastrous."

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The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization with locations across North America and partnerships in more than 80 countries. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org.

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