George M. Dawson Secondary School on Haida Gwaii has instituted a new educational program for First Nations Kids from kindergarten to Grade 4 which does away with grades and instead, groups students into reading, writing and math classes based on skill level. They are then tracked weekly, These programs are offered in conjunction with cultural activities under the assumption that promoting culturally responsive education will result in children feeling more valued and appreciated for who they are and more open to learning as they make the transition into the public school system in Grade 5.

Let’s hope they’re on the right track and that accurate, unbiased and transparent monitoring systems will be used to ensure that this becomes an evidence based program that leads to an increase in the number of First Nations Kids who graduate within 6 years of entering grade 8. At this time it stands at only 54% compared with 80% for all students in the public school system.

Good on Chief Matthews and his team of dedicated aboriginal teachers who are pushing the envelope for better educational outcomes. They deserve all the support that we can give them.