The number of students getting a Catholic education in Ponoka continues to climb.
A total of 638 students are now enrolled at St. Augustine Catholic School — that is a 3.24 per cent jump, or 20 students, from 2015-16. The numbers are taken from the official Alberta Education figures as of Sept. 30, the date which the province uses to determine per student funding for each school.
Principal Kevin Prediger believes the numbers now are pretty much right where they need to be.
“We were built to hold two classes at each grade level and that is basically where we are, pretty much at capacity,” he said in an interview.
The school’s increase is slightly below that of the overall division, with St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic (STAR) overall growth hitting 5.5 per cent to just under 4,000 in its 11 schools. This is the sixth straight year of upward enrolment for the division, up more than 32 per cent, or close to 1,000 students, in that time.
The strongest rise in the division remains in Beaumont, up slightly over six per cent, while a pair of Leduc elementary schools saw a decrease due to boundary changes.
“This trend is a testament to the commitment families have made to our school division and the quality Catholic education provided in our communities,” said Dr. Troy Davies, STAR superintendent
Earlier this month, the 2015-16 results from the provincial achievement tests (PAT) for Grade 6 and 9 students as well the Grade 12 diploma exam were released with St. Augustine coming out above the Alberta-wide average in several cases.
Prediger believes the PATs have value in providing feedback on what is working for teachers, but the small school sample size can turn the results one way or the other.
“The results can ebb and flow, but the outcomes do allow us to adjust our approaches to teaching some things,” he said.
“While tests are a valuable tool, not everything can be measured through a test, as demonstrated by our students going through the recent cardboard boat building event. Something like that is just as valuable as an assessment and helps prepare students by learning other skills you can’t see on a test page.”
For Grade 6, St. Augustine saw more than three quarters of students achieving an acceptable rating in all four subjects and rating higher than the provincial statistics in each subject.
For English language arts, 93.9 per cent of students hit the acceptable rating, in math that figure was 82, 94 in science and 80 in social studies. The province-wide results were — English 91.5 (acceptable), 22.6 (excellence); math 79.3, 15.4; science 86.1, 29.9; and social studies 79.2, 24.4.
The school’s results were slightly lower than the provincial numbers for Grade 9 with 77.5 per cent acceptable and 12.5 excellence in English, math getting 67.5 acceptable and 10 excellence, science at 70 and 12.5 per cent with social studies at 65.9 and 14.6. The provincial results saw English at 86.7 and 17.1, math at 75.8 and 19.5, science at 82.6 and 24.9 while social studies was at 72.7 and 20.3.
The Grade 12 diploma exam results saw all but English just below the provincial average. In English 30-1, 87.5 per cent rated acceptable, while 30-2 at 91.7 per cent rated as acceptable. The provincial results for 30-1 were 86.8 with 30-2 at 62.5.
The other subject results were — Math 30-1 (school) 60 and 10, (prov) 70.7 and 25.9; 30-2 (school) 62.5 and 18.8, (prov) 75.4 and 16.8; biology (school) 67.6 and 8.1 (provincial), chemistry (school) 56 and 12, (prov) 81.5 and 34.5; and, social studies 30-1 (school) 78.9 and 0, (prov) 84.9, 14.3; 30-2 (school) 81.8 and 9.1, (prov) 81.1 and 13.1.