High school’s results wow

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INNISFAIL – Innisfail High School (IHS) students left provincial averages in the dust with recent test and accountability pillar results.

“They’re off the charts positive,” said Kurt Sacher, Chinook’s Edge School Division superintendent, of the accountability pillar results based off the 2016-17 school year’s test scores and survey results.

The results look at exams at both the Grade 9 and Grade 12 levels and survey data about the schools.

“Innisfail High (School) had phenomenal results this past school year,” Sacher said of the results.

Innisfail Grade 9 and Grade 12 diploma exam students exceeded provincial averages in every way.

“We were at provincial average or above provincial average in every single course,” said Scott MacDonald, acting principal at IHS. In some cases it was dramatically above average, like Math-30-1 results that were 17 or 18 per cent higher than the provincial average.

The Grade 9 results are based on the Provincial Achievement Tests that are written by students. Sacher said the provincial average for the standard of meeting acceptable standards was 73 per cent. Innisfail’s results were 82 per cent of students meeting acceptable standards.

Across the province, an average of 19.5 per cent of students were meeting the standard of excellence. In Innisfail, 23.7 per cent of Grade 9 students were hitting that standard.

The Grade 12 diploma exam students had even better results. The provincial average for meeting acceptable standards was 83 per cent, while 95.5 per cent of IHS students in diploma exam courses were meeting that standard.

Across Alberta, 22.2 per cent of those students were meeting the standard of excellence, while nearly one-third of IHS’s Grade 12 diploma exams students, 32.3 per cent, were meeting that standard, Sacher said.

Innisfail’s results in the 2015-2016 school year were still good but not quite as high, Sacher said. In Grade 9, 80.7 per cent of students were meeting acceptable standards and 19.3 hit the excellence standard. In Grade 12 diploma exams, 86.7 per cent of students were meeting acceptable standards and 16.1 per cent were meeting the excellence standard.

“They were still strong numbers but they’re quite a bit higher this year, so we’re pleased to see that,” Sacher said.

MacDonald said part of the success is from putting “the right people in the right places” when it comes to the teaching staff in charge of the core subjects.

The school’s educators are accountable for what they do in the classroom, he said.

“Our conversations are centred around student success,” he said, and what can be done to make the students and staff performing as well as possible.

Staff are pleased with the results, he said.

“They like to see that the work they’ve been doing is paying off. A lot of the credit here goes to Wayne Pineau, our principal on leave. He’s spent the last five or six years trying to create a culture of accountability and safety and support in the school,” MacDonald said.

Other numbers of interest to parents and students include the high school completion rate. Sacher said 88.2 per cent is the current result for Innisfail High School, compared to a 77.9 per cent provincial average.

He said people will be “amazed” by the dropout rate, which is based on 2015-16 data and how many students started the year versus how many finished. For Innisfail, the dropout rate was 0.7 per cent. Provincially, it was three per cent.

MacDonald said that being a small high school helps, as they’re able to keep close tabs on student absences and performance and can help make plans so students successfully graduate and have as many post-secondary options as possible.

Sacher was also happy to report 92.5 per cent of students, staff and parents surveyed feel positively about the school being a safe and caring environment. The provincial average was 89.5 per cent.

Survey data around school improvement and the school’s strategy also showed higher than average confidence in IHS, with 86.9 per cent feeling that way compared to 81.4 per cent provincially.

“I think the board and central office, I think it’s safe to say we’re very proud of the students, the staff and the school. They’ve worked hard for a number of years at Innisfail High (School) to really improve,” Sacher said.

Scott MacDonald, IHS acting principal

“They like to see that the work they’ve been doing is paying off. A lot of the credit here goes to Wayne Pineau, our principal on leave. He’s spent the last five or six years trying to create a culture of accountability and safety and support in the school.”

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Victoria Paterson is a Calgary-based freelance writer.