Dropping out for oil - Macleans.ca

Dropping out for oil

Only two-thirds of Alberta high-school students graduate—lowest in Canada

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The lure of a booming oil industry has caused a small exodus of high-school students to drop out before graduating, the Globe and Mail reported above the fold today.

Using Statcan data on public-education enrolment released yesterday, the Globe found that 67.9 per cent of young Albertans graduate high school, lower than any other jurisdiction aside from Canada’s territories. That number is four per cent higher than in 1999.

Alberta education spokesperson Kathy Telfer told the paper that a more accurate graduation rate looks at dropouts who return to school several years down the road. That number included, the total graduation rate is closer to 80 per cent, she said.

The Globe’s Michael Valpy juxtaposes the Alberta experience with that of the Maritimes. When the formerly booming fishing industry was at its peak, more kids left school. The boom has since shifted out west. Meanwhile, in Atlantic Canada, participation rates in university and college remain among the highest in Canada, and the region also graduates the highest proportion of high-school students in the country (along with Saskatchewan). Newfoundland, however, experienced a 20-per-cent drop in enrolment between 1999 and 2006.