The territorial government is taking steps it hopes will lead to better student outcomes, nearly three years after a report by the Auditor General criticized the Department of Education for not understanding and filling long-standing gaps.
Meanwhile, the latest student data, released March 9, shows that gaps remain between rural and urban students, and between indigenous and non-indigenous students.
In a March 9 news release, the Yukon government said it is advancing its commitment to creating a student outcomes strategy that will improve student outcomes in the Yukon, including First Nations students, students from rural areas, and students with diverse backgrounds learning needs.
The development of a student outcomes strategy directly addresses a recommendation in the June 2019 Auditor General of Canada report on Kindergarten through Grade 12 education in the area.
One of the seven recommendations listed in the Auditor General’s report specifically calls on the Department of Education to develop and implement a strategy to close long-standing gaps in student achievement and improve student outcomes, particularly for Yukon First Nations and native Yukon students rural area. The report outlines that the strategy should include analyzing the root causes of poor student outcomes, defining achievement goals, developing and implementing actions to meet those goals, and evaluating the effectiveness of those actions in improving student outcomes.
During an interview on March 10, Kelli Taylor, Deputy Assistant Minister for Policy and Partnerships at the Department of Education, said that while work on the student outcomes strategy has been delayed due to COVID-19, the department “absolutely agreed” with the recommendation. be ” with.
“It’s really important that we get on with this work now,” Taylor said.
“While we regularly assess students based on their learning, the student outcomes strategy will also address identifying achievement goals for students to achieve, how we implement actions to meet those goals, and a way to evaluate those actions are working.” indeed.”
The tracked data may change as the strategy is created. “For example, maybe not just students’ academic performance, but also their sense of belonging and connection to their school community,” Taylor said.
IRP Consulting was commissioned to gather feedback and incorporate input from Yukon First Nations governments to develop an approach to improving student outcomes.
“We need a deeper understanding of what is happening so that Yukon learners are able to make evidence-based decisions that will help all Yukon students succeed,” Taylor said.
After working with Yukon First Nations governments, Taylor said there will be opportunities to hear from students and other interested parties.
Taylor expects the final product to be ready in the upcoming 2022-23 school year.
gap in graduation rates
According to the March 9 press release, in 2018 the department established an achievement and analysis unit to better manage and analyze student achievement data, and in 2020 a joint data working group was established with the Chiefs Committee on Education to facilitate data sharing with Yukon First to improve nations about student results.
Yukon-wide student data reports on student enrollment, attendance, graduation rates, and statewide assessments are released each year for the previous school year.
The 2020-21 report tracks the number of student graduation rates by region and whether they identified as Yukon First Nations, other Indigenous, or non-Indigenous nations.
The latest figures show that graduation rates across the 2020-21 Yukon were the lowest in the report’s final six school years at 74 percent, or 306 successful graduates out of 411 potential graduates.
The rural graduation rate was also the lowest at 65 percent, or 41 out of 63 potential graduates. This compares to the urban rate of 76 percent, or 306 out of 411 potential graduates.
As for the breakdown by self-identification status, the graduation rate among Yukon First Nation students was 66 percent, or 65 out of 98 potential graduates.
Among “other indigenous” students, the graduation rate was even lower at 63 percent, or 22 out of 35 graduates.
That compares to 79 percent of non-First Nation students who graduated, or 219 out of 278 potential graduates.
What the Court of Auditors report says
The 2019 Auditor General’s report found that the Yukon Department of Education had not done enough to understand and address long-standing gaps in student outcomes, particularly for those of Yukon First Nations and rural students.
“We found that out 10 years after our previous one  Examination gaps in student scores between First Nations and non-First Nations students persisted. We also found that there were differences in student outcomes between rural and urban students,” the report said.
“We also found that the Department of Education has made little effort to identify the root causes of gaps in student outcomes in order to better understand them. Without this perspective, the department could not ensure that its support for students is the right one to improve student outcomes.”
The audit notes that this finding is significant as the department cannot ensure that it is focusing its time and resources where they are needed most, nor can it determine what causes may be beyond its control.
“Additionally, without a strategy to fill in the gaps in study results, the department has no way of knowing how well it is filling in these gaps. If the department waits too long to identify, understand, and address the root causes of these gaps, another generation of students could be impacted for life,” the review reads.
The department’s response to the Auditor General’s report at the time acknowledged that it “had not implemented a comprehensive strategy to measure and analyze disparities in student outcomes and direct initiatives to eliminate those disparities.”
The student outcomes section of the Department’s 2019 Annual Status of Education Report, signed by then-Secretary of Education Tracy-Anne McPhee, indicates that discussions with Yukon First Nations and the Yukon Education Advisory Committee ” through a framework of student outcomes and performance indicators to develop and implement a strategy to examine system data, focus on the root causes that impact student performance, set goals with specific actions to support improvement and assess their effectiveness. “
In the annual report, the department originally expected to have an initial strategy by August 2020.
Contact Dana Hatherly at [email protected]