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NEWS RELEASE · 2nd June 2011
Ministry of Education
The Coast Mountains school district is receiving $12,500 through the Growing Innovation Program as one of the rural districts selected for a research project on how to boost student engagement and improve achievement for rural learners.

The staff at Kitwanga Elementary School will be using culturally relevant assessment and teaching strategies to more effectively support First Nations students reading comprehension skills. The goal of the project is to share best practices across the district by developing the assessment and teaching tools for use in all schools.

Last March, the Ministry of Education and the University of British Columbia (UBC), through the office of the Eleanor Rix Professorship for Rural Teacher Education, teamed up to launch Growing Innovation. The $300,000 provincewide program provides grants to the districts selected so they can bring their innovative ideas to life and enhance rural learning.

UBC graduate students will offer support and provide resources that may help districts and schools assess the effectiveness of their projects allowing schools throughout the province to learn from one another.

Education Minister George Abbott is quoted as stating, "This pilot project will explore the importance of having relevant literature available for First Nations students and bringing these wonderful stories into the classroom to benefit everyone."

Coast Mountains School Board Chair Barry Pankhurst is quoted as stating "We are very proud of the work being done here in the district in support of rural schools and First Nations students and we look forward to sharing our findings with educators across the province."

* The Aboriginal student population of Coast Mountains school district stands at approximately 38 per cent. Although overall student enrolment has declined in the district, the Aboriginal student population has increased each year.

* Sixty-one grant submissions for Growing Innovation funding were received from 36 rural districts. Seventeen were selected with a focus on their impact on students in rural communities, innovation, and potential for research.

* The research agreement between the Ministry of Education and UBC will see UBC graduate students guide and document research in the districts this fall. In May 2012, schools, districts and researchers will share information at a symposium at UBC.