Northwest Territories Graduation Rates

Increasing student education outcomes in the Northwest Territories (NWT) to the same level as the rest of Canada is a priority of the 19th Legislative Assembly.

In the NWT, students need to meet certain criteria/requirements to graduate from high school (or senior secondary school). This includes earning a total of 100 credits and achieving a passing mark in required courses and chosen electives. The graduation rate reflects the percentage of students who have met the requirements for graduation and have received a Senior Secondary School Diploma.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) wants to ensure the territory’s graduation rates are based on the most accurate data available. Addressing key achievement gaps, especially for students in small communities, is essential to ensuring that children have a strong foundation for success in life. ECE has undertaken a review of the graduation rate methodology to ensure it continues to reflect the unique realities of the North.

NWT Six-Year High School Graduation Rate

A high school graduation rate is one way to look at the effectiveness of a school system. On its own, the graduation rate tells us what percentage of high school students go on to meet the requirements for a Senior Secondary School Diploma. This, when combined with other measures, and when examined over time - as is done in the Annual JK-12 Performance Measures Report - helps provide a more complete picture of the NWT school system.

There are many ways to calculate graduation rates; ECE aims to answer: “What percentage of high school students graduate from high school in the NWT?”

Methodology Overview

ECE’s Six-Year High School Graduation Rate was developed in 2021 to help estimate what percentage of students in the NWT achieve the requirements for a Senior Secondary School Diploma within six years of starting high school.

This new method starts by grouping students into a cohort. A student’s cohort is the school year that they first enrolled in Grade 10. Then, the number of those students who graduate within six years is divided by the total number of students in the cohort.

The graduation rate counts all students who graduate within six years of starting high school. Six years ensures that all students, no matter their circumstances, have a chance to be counted as a graduate in the high school graduation rate. Furthermore, as most students are 15 years old when they start Grade 10, a six-year window captures all of the students who graduate before they turn 21 years old. This method also reflects the reality that there are many pathways to completing high school and meeting graduation requirements, beyond the established three-year time frame.

This update to graduation rates is based on what ECE has learned from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada’s report on Junior Kindergarten (JK) to Grade 12 education in the NWT, as well as in consultation with the B.C. Government's Student Outcomes Reporting and Analytics team, which uses a similar method for their Six-Year Dogwood Completion Rate.

ECE encourages students entering high school to plan ahead, and select courses that meet graduation requirements and take into consideration their plans for life after high school - whether it be college, university, trades or a career. That way, students can ensure they have the courses and requirements they need to meet their future goals.