Grades 4,5 moving away from letter grades

SD52 is seeking feedback on a new format for Grades 4 and 5 report cards

This month, Prince Rupert area (SD52) officials presented the board of education with a new report card format for Grades 4 and 5 students in line with a provincial movement to move away from elementary school-level letter grades.

The new method was developed collaboratively with teachers across elementary schools and the design implements a system identifying students’ strengths and areas needing further improvement.

“It’s been a conversation probably since I started teaching about how to adequately communicate student learning to parents, and what we know for certain is that a letter grade communicates lots of things, but not necessarily anything about learning,” said SD52 superintendent Sandra Jones.

“[Letter grades] are not great communicators of what the child has learned, what they’re capable of doing and what the child needs to work on next. So it’s about communicating learning in a more robust fashion to parents. It’s more information, not less,” she added.

The new report cards were sent out in select classes as a pilot project, but not all. However, for the second report card of the year out of three, district officials are “very much inclined to think it will be all Grades 4 and 5 teachers [participating],” Jones said.

The move is part of a larger effort by the province to move towards the new style of report cards, which provides more specific commentary about the progression of the child’s learning as opposed to the letter grade and minimal accompanying comments. Few districts in B.C. have implemented the system from grades K – 12, while more commonly, B.C. districts have implemented the report format from K – 9, Jones said.

“In [Grades] K, 1, 2 and 3, you never get letter grades and apparently people know what’s going on there, so by Grade 4 it’s not a big change for parents … If a parent wanted to know the letter grade, teachers will be able to provide that [with the new format],” the superintendent said.

The new report card is being distributed and teachers will look for feedback from parents.

Further, the date for a school board trustee by-election to fill the vacant position held by resigned board member Judy Carlick-Pearson has yet to be set. The district is in talks with the City of Prince Rupert, which, under the School Act, must facilitate the election.

After a chief election officer is appointed, the date will be set in the new year.