To keep letter grades for students or not

School District 23 will keep a watchful eye on a Surrey pilot project in which some elementary schools are eliminating letter grades for students in grades four through seven.

And, while Superintendent Hugh Gloster says a consultation process needed to move away from letter grades has not taken place locally the district is looking at expanding the current evaluation system beyond just a letter grade.

He says the district, along with the province, have been looking at what is considered best practices when it comes to the assessment and evaluation process.

"There is definitely room for improvement in communicating more effectively with students and parents about student progress beyond just what a letter grade and perhaps a brief comment may currently offer," says Gloster.

In Surrey, five elementary schools began the pilot project in the fall. Since then, some 25 other Surrey schools have expressed interest.

The Ridge Meadows school district also adopted a similar reporting system last year.

The new trial system will allow teachers to report on the progress of students based on a variety of criteria and far more in depth than the traditional A, B, C letter grade.

"One of the things at the primary level that everybody is agreeing on is kids learn at different rates. We have some students that are considered a late bloomer in life and that doesn't mean that intellectually there's anything wrong with the student," says Gloster.

"In some cases they are going to take a little more time to develop their skills and understanding and being able to communicate that in ways other than being able to assign a letter grade to do it we see as being attractive."

Gloster says the new BC ED plan being developed by the province is looking at new cirricula for the core subjects such as math, science, social studies and English at the elementary level.

He says the plan would include a move toward more in depth learning in a far number of areas.

"Instead of a curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep they are trying to reduce the number of learning outcomes and allowing teachers and students to go into far more depth."

The new plan would also remove more hurdles between the province and local Board of Education.

"The goal ultimately is to try to personalize it for individual kids a lot more," says Gloster.

"Rather than the assembly line approach - trying to personalize the journey more to look at the individual child, where they're at and what they are going to need more support with over time."



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