Fraser-Cascade school board trustees aim to rename Evergreen Certificate the Pathway Diploma

The school completion program has negative connotations for First Nations students, say trustees

Students working towards an Evergreen Certificate may find themselves graduating under a new program name, if a motion put forward by the Fraser-Cascade school board goes through.

The motion, which the board will bring to the B.C. School Trustees Association AGM in April, asks that the Evergreen Certificate be renamed the Pathway Diploma, in an attempt to reduce negative connotations around the program.

“In the past, the Evergreen certificate did have some negative connotations, and rightfully so in many ways,” Trustee Ron Johnstone said at Tuesday’s meeting (Feb. 5). “What was happening is it was the path of least resistance, and quite often used with our First Nations students — this was many years ago — in order to put them on an easy path.

“We want to put students on the appropriate path, for them to succeed.”

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Johnstone said that the Evergreen Certificate is sometimes the right path for students with special needs, as it allows them to be successful in a school setting.

“To have them walk across the stage as less-than, is really offensive,” he said.

The motion also asks that the association approach the ministry of education to “acknowledge the value of students’ success in graduating” by including them in the six-year completion rate statistics.

The Evergreen Certificate is a school completion program for students with an individual education plan. Currently, around 24 students are working towards an Evergreen Certificate in the Fraser-Cascade school district.

These students do not graduate with a Dogwood Diploma as, according to the ministry website, “the Evergreen represents the completion of personal learning goals but does not represent graduation.”

The Fraser-Cascade school board said this was not a good enough reason to subtract students graduating with an Evergreen Certificate from the six-year completion rates.

“Not only do they not get acknowledged for the work they’ve done to get to that point — and the teachers and their other supporters — those numbers … would be subtracted from the total,” said Board chair, Linda Kerr.

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“Which I think is a real degredation for the work they’ve put in, their teacher’s put in and their parents’ put in.”

The board voted unanimously to bring the motion to the school trustees AGM in April. At that point, it will be voted on by school trustees from across the province.

Trustee John Koopman feels strongly the motion will be supported by other B.C. trustees.

“I’m confident that by the time we take this to the AGM, it’s going to rectify the wrongs we’ve alluded to,” he said Tuesday.

“Every student should be able to walk across the stage with dignity come graduation,” he added. “They’ve worked hard, we should recognize that. I’m confident this will be a vehicle to change what’s there.

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