Eventually, students in Chilliwack won’t receive letter grades on reports until Grade 9, the first year of high school.

B.C. middle school phasing out letter grades

Elementary and middle school will soon all have proficiency scales for report cards

Eventually, students in Chilliwack won’t receive letter grades on report cards until Grade 9, the first year of high school.

The change was discussed during a presentation by local principals to the school board on Tuesday night, as part of an overview of changes to curriculum and grade configuration. Both have figured heavily in what school looks like at each level. New curriculum has been rolling out over the past few years from the Ministry of Education, and this was the first school year that grades shifted at the elementary, middle and high school level.

One of the biggest changes still to be seen is a shift from letter grades to a ‘proficiency scale.’ Elementary students and their parents will be familiar with this scale, which shows how a child is handling different skills in the classroom. There are four levels of achievement — beginning, developing, applying and extending.

That type of scale puts the “focus on the process of learning rather than the product,” said Angela Utley, principal at Unsworth elementary. “The narrative is more important than any letter grade could be.”

Paula Gosal, principal at Chilliwack middle school, and Danielle Wicker, vice-principal at Mt. Slesse middle school, added that the lowering of middle school grades has meant some big changes in their schools. And soon, letter grades will be another change.

“We too are shifting away from letter grades,” Wicker said, noting that a gradual transition will take place over three years.

Starting in September, the proficiency scale style of reporting will follow this year’s Grade 5 students into middle school for their Grade 6 year. Grade 7 will begin using a proficiency scale in 2020, and Grade 8 students will begin in 2021-2022.

Acting superintendent Rohan Arul-pragasam said the scale supports the redesigned curriculum rolled out to schools.

“That (curriculum) reflects a continuum of learning and emphasizes a fundamental shift in how we design engaging learning environments and how we communicate the process of learning to students and parents,” he said.

When Trustee Heather Maahs expressed concern about taking letter grades away at that level, Gosal said the reports lead to “more consistent communication at home,” when skills are lagging. With many students at the middle school age, a poor grade can be disastrous to learning, she added.

“When our kids see that letter grade, the shutters come down,” she said.

But the grades will reappear in high school, at the Grade 9 level. Within this new configuration, Grade 9 has students exploring high school for one year before their graduation transcripts are being formed. With one year to get used to the flow of high school, students may be better equipped to succeed in Grades 10 through 12, said Jessica Adams-Loupret, the principal at Chilliwack secondary.

“A number of kids do come to us with lagging skills,” she said. “And very quickly they would fail courses.”

What do you think? Send us a letter at editor@theprogress.com.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

School buses for SD91 to start running from June 1

Parents urged to drop off and pick kids up whenever possible

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

New traffic lanes for Six Mile west of Burns Lake coming soon

Construction to begin on lane extension and traffic improvement

Coastal GasLink pipeline work ramps up

With spring thaw ending, workers start to arrive for summer season

Mission prison COVID-19 outbreak ends, 9 new cases in B.C.

New positive test at Port Coquitlam care home

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

Getting hitched at historic B.C. gold rush town still on table during COVID-19 pandemic

Micro-weddings, online visits, offered at Barkerville Historic Town and Park

Revelstoke woman finds welcoming letter on her Alberta-registered truck

There have been multiple reports online of vandalism to vehicles with Alberta licence plates

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

B.C. teacher reprimanded for sharing homophobic and sexist memes, making racist comments

Klaus Hardy Breslauer was accused of making a laundry list of concerning decisions as a science teacher

COVID-19: B.C. too dependent on foreign food production workers

New B.C. job site links unemployed with farm, seafood work

Most Read