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Blog: Friday, February 2nd, 2018

Positive Attendance Program

Aboriginal student grade to grade transitions have made steady improvements in the junior years. Our data indicates that 100% of our Aboriginal students stay in school until the beginning of grade 10.  By the end of grade 10 before grade 11 we lose 10% and then another 10% do not transition to grade 12. While our graduation rates have improved and are better than many districts in the province, there continues to be a disparity in the rate of school completion of Aboriginal students compared to non-Aboriginal students. To support our enhancement agreement of school completion, cultural pride and sense of belonging, we have numerous strategies, these include, increasing and supporting high expectations for our Aboriginal students, involving family and Elders in school life and ensuring that culture is reflected and valued at each of our sites.  Our secondary Aboriginal teams with 5 new teachers at the secondary level, are making a positive impact in our schools by infusing Aboriginal content into classrooms, providing opportunities for students to learn and demonstrate pride in their culture. 

One initiative is the Positive Attendance Program. The vice-principal analyzes attendance data and identifies students who would benefit from support to develop positive attendance. The team meets and identifies the best person on staff to engage with the student and understand what barriers may be causing the attendance issues.  A one-to-one meeting occurs to listen to and understand the issues. The Aboriginal team provides support as needed and the student sets goals for improving their attendance.  Staff notice when a student is away and make a point to let them know they were missed when not at school. A key component is ongoing monitoring, and celebrating improvements and successes. 

A key in this initiative is moving away from responding to attendance or absence through ‘punishment.’ In fact, we know that a punitive approach to attendance has the opposite effect. The goal of the Positive Attendance Program is to provide a supportive approach, to improve student attendance and this will surely result in ongoing improvements in student achievement. We thank Tara Plantinga for her leadership to implement this program in our district and our Aboriginal Teams at the secondary school for their ongoing support and care for our students!

DARLENE MACDONALD
District Principal, Aboriginal Education