Students from Grades kindergarten to 9 will receive written summary reports and letter grades are no longer a requirement.

Students from Grades kindergarten to 9 will receive written summary reports and letter grades are no longer a requirement.

Letter grades eliminated for most Nanaimo students

NANAIMO – Kindergarten to Grade 9 pupils receive written summaries of progress from teachers.

The heads of Nanaimo teachers’ union and school board are welcoming a move that will see letter grades eliminated for a majority of students.

The Ministry of Education announced new curriculum last year and with that, the district will use interim reporting guidelines for Grades kindergarten to 9 this year.

Parent and teacher communication will take place at least five times during the year, including two written summary reports at the end of January and June, in which letter grades are no longer a requirement.

Grades 10-12 will still receive letter grades.

“We’ve believed in getting rid of letter grades for decades,” said Mike Ball, president of Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association. “It’s not something that’s useful. In essence what you’re doing is ranking kids and you’re saying one’s better than another.”

Ball said it’s much more valuable for students to see how much progress they’ve made.

The teachers’ union leader estimates that grading for 10-12 will stay for another year or two. There will be issues that will have to be worked out with post-secondary institutions in Canada and then there will be issues with student opportunities elsewhere in the world.

“If the American system requires grades to be able to separate students, then I suspect that we’ll end up keeping grades in that area. There is a move in Canadian universities to get rid of grades as being the entrance to a university and we would hope that that would continue. We’d like to see all grades gone at some point.

“There really is no value in knowing you’re an A or a B … are you a good problem solver, is way more important than knowing you can get an A in an English language test,” said Ball.

Steve Rae, school board chairman, said the system is a different way of grading students.

“Change is difficult, but it’s also how we move forward. I think it’s a much more positive approach to how we grade children than we have in the past, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes and if it needs adjustments along the way, we’ll make them,” said Rae.

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