Parents asked to help grade school reporting system

Education Minister Mike Bernier is looking for input about report cards and other forms of teacher feedback

Education Minister Mike Bernier

Education Minister Mike Bernier has written an open letter to B.C. parents, asking for their opinions about how they would like student reporting to look in the future.

As the new curriculum is rolled out to help kids learn the skills they need to succeed in this ever-changing world, the government is developing a new reporting approach that may eliminate report cards, said Bernier.

Right now, most school districts include report cards, parent/teacher meetings and regular verbal progress reports. While report cards for primary students often have a four-point rating scale of ‘meeting expectations, not meeting expectations’ etc., that may be replaced with something that doesn’t have a rating.

Sam Muraca, district vice principal of education planning, was in front of Langley school trustees at the Sept. 26 meeting, providing examples of what a report card could look like in the future.

He said changes will be coming, with student self assessment of core competencies being part of the report card at the end of this school year.

Letter grades may be on the chopping block for K to 9.

“It may be that in Grades 4 to 9, parents will have to request a letter grade otherwise it will be a different template,” said Muraca.

The new report cards could articulate where the student is at and what they have accomplished through a portfolio of work.

“Ranking is great for the top students but not for the bottom students,” he said.

Acting superintendent of schools, Gord Stewart, said letter grades don’t make a student try harder or learn more.

“Evidence shows ranking (grades) does not enhance student learning,” said Stewart.

Already, a class of Grade 4s at RC Garnett has had their report cards replaced with parent/teacher/student meetings. Most parents reportedly liked it and the school is carrying it into this year. Two parents requested letter grades.

“One complaint was the progress reports were too text dense, without (offering) full understanding of where the child was at,” said Stewart.

One parent after the meeting worried that if there is no interim reporting or ranking through the year how will parents measure how the student’s progress, or lack of?

“We have lots of work to do to inform parents,” said Stewart.

The major concern for parents is that graduating students must have a ranking to gain entry into post secondary schools. Universities like UBC require a certain Grade Point Average (GPA) in order to grant admission.

Parents have until Feb. 28, 2017 to provide their input to the ministry.

As well, there will be 10 community meetings across cities in B.C. in the coming months.

The government’s plan will be shared with parents in June 2017.

“The ultimate goal of this engagement is to develop a student reporting process that gives families a deeper understanding of their child’s progress at school through timely and comprehensive information,” said Bernier.

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