Boys continue to lag behind girls when it comes to graduation in B.C., new statistics show.
But School District 43 hopes to close the gap with its programs of choice and a new provincial curriculum that offers more flexibility and personalized learning.
"These programs are designed to address these issues to give opportunities for our diverse learners to excel," superintendent Patricia Gartland told trustees at a board of education meeting.
Statistics presented at the board show SD43 continues to lead Metro Vancouver school districts in graduating students. The six-year graduation rate (the proportion of students who graduate within six years after starting Grade 8) is 92.7% in SD43, compared to the provincial average of 83.9%.
SD43's rate is also the highest among all Metro Vancouver districts, including West Vancouver and Surrey, suggesting the district is doing something that other districts are not.
What makes the difference for students, including the most vulnerable, is hard to pin down. But administrators told trustees collaborative teaching, programs of choice, including CABE, an alternative high school program, and Suwalk'h for aboriginal students, are keeping kids in school longer.
"Why are we so successful: exceptional governance, teacher leadership in instruction, learning teams and a collaborative approach" said assistant superintendent Reno Ciolfi in explaining SD43's high graduation rates.
The district's middle school program, where students in Grade 6, to 8 are encouraged to develop and learn together, and summer school that allows students to retake courses to attain better grades, were also given credit for making it easier for students to graduate.
Still, administrators were hard-pressed to explain a roughly 6% gap between male and female graduation rates, with 95.7% of girls graduating compared to 89.9% of males in 2014/’15. The spread hasn't changed much in five years, statistics show, although six-year graduation rates have risen slightly over the years.
"That's a problem that's throughout B.C., North America-wide and even in Europe as well," said Ciolfi.
One reason may be that girls do better settling down in the earlier grades, which he suggested could be because they are socialized to do so, while boys may have more difficulty with self-regulation.
Teaching children self-regulation skills, such as how to calm themselves when they become emotionally agitated, is now an important part of the school curriculum, Ciolfi said. Such skills can help children dealing with anxiety and hyperactivity, and may lead to closing the graduation gap, he said, adding it is "a pattern we need to work on and it's well established everywhere."
He also pointed out that the six-year graduation rates for the end of the last school year reflect changes in education that have occurred over the last 13 years and are a broad way of measuring the success of children who started kindergarten in 2001.