The number of Red Deer Public Schools students graduating within three years reached a 10-year high in 2019-20, according to the district’s latest Annual Education Results Report.
Eighty-five per cent of students graduated within three years of entering Grade 10, up from 79.9 per cent in the 2018-19 school year.
Red Deer Public also saw an increase in students graduating in both four and five-year time frames: 85.2 per cent within four years and 84.8 per cent within five years.
During 2018-19, 82.8 per cent graduated within four years, and 81.6 per cent within five years.
School board chair Nicole Buchanan said there were many reasons for the jump in graduations, including the dedication of staff when the pandemic struck in the spring of 2020.
“Our board certainly recognizes and appreciates all the hard work that our staff did transitioning to at-home learning. (They) really stepped up to the plate in regards to making sure that our students were provided the best opportunity in an unprecedented school year,” Buchanan said.
That spring students didn’t have to write diploma exams due to the pandemic which also could have impacted graduation rates, she said.
Graduation within three years for First Nation, Métis and Inuit students was also the highest ever for the district at 70.6 per cent.
“Not only was this the highest level of graduation we’ve ever seen for our Indigenous students, we were over eight per cent higher than the provincial average.”
Students also excelled when it came to scholarships in 2020-21. The number of students eligible to receive the Alexander Rutherford High School Achievement Scholarship was at its highest level in the past seven years, with 66.9 per cent of students qualifying, a 2.2 per cent increase from the previous year and a 6.4 per cent increase from the previous three-year average.
Buchanan said the school board allocated $1 million to focus on student learning gaps and mental health during the current school year to continue to support students.