I consider it a great honour to tell the story of student learning in our district. At our January Board of Education meeting I shared my Superintendent’s Report on Student Achievement. According to provincial measures, West Vancouver continues to be the highest performing jurisdiction in the province. There are other indicators, many tied directly to the various programs, initiatives and opportunities available to our students here in West Vancouver. These achievements are a reflection of the excellent teachers, staff, leaders and committed families who work together to create top-quality schools.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Writing – we are seeing more students “exceeding expectations” on various measures than at any point in the last five years;
- Inquiry – we have more teachers and more schools embracing inquiry-based learning; including a number of schools that have now formally adopted school-wide approaches;
- Fine Arts – the number of students reporting they are learning about music and art has grown and is far above provincial averages;
- Valuing Diversity and First Nations Understanding – more students are reporting they are learning about Aboriginal people and learning to respect people who are different from themselves.
It is wonderful to see a correlation between our innovation efforts and our achievement results. For example, there has been tremendous commitment to the arts and aboriginal portfolios in the last two years – and it is making a difference. From our cultural work with the Squamish Nation to the Lighthouse Festival – we are positively affecting student learning. I am also very interested in the writing results. I am left to wonder whether it is our commitment to inquiry and digital writing that helps support our outstanding results in the various writing assessments.
Our graduation rates also continue to be a source of great pride. Our Dogwood Diploma rate is 98% and the number of our students graduating with “Honours” (having a B average or higher) is at a five-year high. We are also seeing a narrowing of the gender gap with Honours graduates – what was once a 16% gap between girls and boys is now only 8%.
Of course, there are always areas to consider – the gender gap continues to be worth more exploration; physical literacy and physical education continue to need our attention; and we need to be vigilant on continuing to create engaging and relevant options for our students, particularly at the higher grade levels.
Our classrooms are more diverse than five years ago, yet our achievement levels continue to be outstanding. We have embraced new areas of learning in addition to the core foundation skills of reading, writing and math. Equally important to student achievement are areas that include the arts, physical activity and social-emotional learning.
I have the privilege to share our district’s story – great teachers, talented leaders, and outstanding schools. We continue to be a learning district – a high performing community always looking to be better. In sharing the WVSD’s Report on Achievement, I am reminded why it is a great honour to serve as the Superintendent in this District.