Surrey and Maple Ridge schools set to rub out letter grades

January 9, 2014

By Tracy Sherlock – The Vancouver Sun

Letter grades will become a thing of the past for many more B.C. students as schools throughout the province are looking at various changes for report cards.

Surrey and Maple Ridge are leading the way, with other districts watching closely and the provincial education plan calling for changes that include new tools for reporting and “richer” information for parents.

About 30 of Surrey’s 100 elementary schools are set to adopt new methods of reporting progress for students in Grades 4 to 7. The change is part of a pilot project that has been underway at five Surrey elementary schools since September, but is set to expand to another 20 or 25 of the city’s elementary schools for the next set of report cards.

Instead of letter grades for Grades 4 to 7, schools in the pilot project are using other methods to communicate with parents, such as meeting face-to-face, emailing work samples, or using QR codes to link to pictures or videos. (Letter grades have not been given to Grade 1 to 3 students in B.C. for at least the past two decades.)

“We wanted schools to explore with parents what the parents felt was better, fuller and more ongoing information about their students,” said Pat Horstead, assistant superintendent of the Surrey school district. The intent of the pilot project was not to eliminate letter grades, but participants in the project said such grading did not give parents enough information, particularly about how they can help their child do better at school, Horstead said.

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district was the first in the province to change their report cards for Grades 4 to 7. In April, that district granted teachers the option to give up traditional reporting guidelines in favour of a three-way conference model that included parents and students in the evaluation process. For this school year, 20 of the district’s 21 elementary schools decided to participate.

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