Student wellbeing provides an important foundation for student success, and student success provides an important foundation for student wellbeing.
Wellbeing is about good nutrition, having friends, and connecting with adults and mentors. For our students, it’s also about experiencing success at school. Students that feel they are experiencing success at school are more likely to have a sense of positive wellbeing.
For thirty years, BC schools have been guided by the idea of The Educated Citizen as described by the Sullivan Royal Commission on Education (1988). “A quality education system assists in the development of human potential and improves the well-being of each individual person in British Columbia society.” The development of the whole child incorporates academic, social and emotional aspects, and reflects the core competencies of BC’s transformed curriculum: skills in communications and thinking, and personal and social responsibility.
In the 2017-18 school year, 74% of Gulf Islands students who were BC residents graduated high school according to BC’s Six-Year Completion rate. This compares to a provincial average of 88% (https://studentsuccess.gov.bc.ca ). “Youth unemployment is high for those who do not complete high school” (OECD 2018). In fact, unemployment in Canada for youth who have not completed high school is about three times as high in comparison to those who have graduated and have some additional training. When we consider that one in four Gulf Islands students last year did not graduate, we know we can do better.
In February of this year a district “Mental Health & Wellbeing” working group asked, “What indicators in a student’s school career can help us intervene earlier to ensure school success?” Using the Gulf Island 2018 graduation results, we compared an equal number of students that did and did not complete school using the Six-Year Completion rate. What we found in the SD64 Well-Being & Success Case Study really comes as no surprise:
- Students who demonstrated proficiency in the FSA’s (Foundational Skills Assessment) in grade 4 Reading and Numeracy were 50% more likely to graduate than their peers that did not demonstrate proficiency in the FSA.
- In the FSA Reading and Numeracy assessments taken three years later in grade 7, the connection was even greater: students who demonstrated proficiency were twice as likely to graduate.
- Surprisingly, students who simply participated in writing the FSA’s were also 30% to 60% more likely to graduate.
- Better student attendance also correlated with a better graduation rate.
Analysis by the BC Ministry of Education supports our findings.
Why is this valuable information?
Identifying strengths and areas for improvement provides schools with the opportunity to design instruction and interventions early in a student’s school career. It enables us to chart a path for success for each student.
Professionals – doctors and engineers, environmental planners and teachers – use good information and evidence to make informed decisions about what’s next. Ranking or sorting students that “can” from those that “can’t” is of little value. Having a rich set of information about where a student excels, and where additional support is necessary, assists teachers in targeting instruction that supports what’s next for a child’s learning.
The district’s kindergarten to grade 9 teachers met in the spring of 2019 to discuss and review shared expectations for what we want students to know and do in literacy at each grade level. This assisted the District to design a system-wide approach to assessment and intervention that helps us understand what all students know and can do. Assessment information for all students from kindergarten through grade 9 will be captured in our district system. This shared dashboard supports teachers working together to provide on-time and targeted instruction for all students, and facilitates smooth transitions from class-to-class and school-to-school.
Early intervention and targeted instruction supports greater student success. When students experience school success, this positively influences their wellbeing. And a positive sense of wellbeing pays dividends over a lifetime.
Doug Livingston, Director of Instruction