Schools to implement new marking system

Next September, Meadow Lake students – with the exception of Carpenter High School – will no longer receive a grade value, but rather a designation and description of their current standings. Here, Grade 1 Lakeview Elementary School teacher Cheryl Palenchuk, who already grades her students according to the new scheme, reads to her class.

Next September, Meadow Lake students – with the exception of Carpenter High School – will no longer receive a grade value, but rather a designation and description of their current standings. Here, Grade 1 Lakeview Elementary School teacher Cheryl Palenchuk, who already grades her students according to the new scheme, reads to her class.

by Derek Cornet

A pilot project at Lakeview Elementary School this year is changing the way teachers grade their students.

Instead of a report card, school principal Dawn Paylor said parents will now receive a student growth report that highlights where a student’s progress is in relation to the work that’s completed all year. If a student is doing well in one subject, they’ll earn the designation of “mastery” or “proficient” while, if they’re struggling, they’ll be marked as “approaching” or “beginner.”

“It’s a change for parents and for the students,” Paylor said. “But, we do need to adapt with how the curriculum changes and currently it puts an emphasis on outcome-based goals.”

The new method – which is called outcome-based reporting – is intended to be a more specific and accurate account of where a student is academically according to the entire curriculum for the class. Instead of grading a child per unit, the teacher will assess the student of their grasp of the entire subject. The teacher will then take their observations and input them into a computer, which will form a profile on the student to track their progress.

“Teachers will still continue using a triangulation assessment because there are many different ways of collecting evidence to see if a child has reached his or her goals,” Paylor said.

While noting teachers have always known where a child is in terms of progress, Paylor said the new method of reporting will allow teachers to understand them better. Since teachers will know more, in turn, they’ll be able to share more information to parents about their child and what needs to be done for them to succeed.

She added the Northwest School Division has also been supportive of the project and has provided teachers with professional development to ease the transition. Through in-services and presentations, teachers were addressed by guest speakers about subjects such as formative assessments.

“A parent should be able to walk up to a teacher and the teacher should feel confident in what they know about their child,” Paylor said.

Grade 2 teacher Amanda Pockrant is in favour of outcome-based reporting, adding she went to university in British Columbia where teachers have already been using the method for a decade. She said even with ‘A’ students, there are areas they could be struggling with and which are being overlooked because it appears they know what they’re doing. In the long-run, Pockrant said if students don’t have a clear idea about where they’re at, it puts them at a disadvantage.

“Typically, as teachers, parents are asking us what they can do to better to help their child,” she said.

However, not everyone is enthusiastic about the change, which will be implemented at all Meadow Lake schools excluding Carpenter High School next fall. A recent survey showed some people had concerns about moving away from the established grading scheme.

“People had concerns because it was different from what they had when they were in school,” Paylor said. “But, changes like these, take about three to five years before everyone is on board.”

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One Response to “Schools to implement new marking system”
  1. TEE says:

    I am a parent of a student who has received the outcome based STUDENT GROWTH REPORT. I disagree with the statement made in the article that, “ People had concerns because it was different from what they had when they were in school“ Although that maybe the case in some instances it certainly is not the case in mine or other parents I have discussed this issue with. The problem with this report card is that is does not clearly define how your child is doing. If my child receives an Approaching in Physical Education under the subtitle I exhibit positive social relationships… what does that mean. Well we have to first figure out what approaching means. Approaching means that my child has only partially achieved (in this case) Exhibiting positive social relationships. Okay so now we must define what Exhibiting Positive Social Relationships means. To me as the parent that may mean that my child is kind and takes turns, shares P.E. equipment and works as a team member when required to do so. To the teacher that may mean being a good sport, helping someone else in the class who needs assistance, being compassionate to a fellow student with disabilities. So the problem here is the terms used are arbitrary and undefined. The terminology is relative depending on who is interpreting it.
    Percentages make sense. If my child receives 95% in P.E. I know my child understands and is capable in 95% of the situations my child encounters in Phys. Ed.. If my child has an issue with something in particular in P.E., the teacher can email, phone or text me with those concerns.
    This report card is filled jargon like… I inquire into life sciences. To me that says as long as my child is inquiring about science (which means investigating and asking questions) my child should have received a mastery in the 1st 2nd 3rd and 4th term.
    A child who receives a proficient in Mathematics but is in actuality a 70% student is not the same as a child who receives a proficient in the subject but is a 95% student. In our household 65% is a FAIL and nothing to be proud of, but as a parent of that child I only know that he or she is proficient.
    Seriously this report is a joke and frankly has no value to me or my child. My biggest concern is that my child could potentially have this inept, ineffectual report card for the next 6 years!! By the time my child hits grade 11 and gets proper grades back it will be too late. Too late to correct study habits, too late to learn content that was missed, too late to feel the sense of achievement and elation at getting 95% for 4 terms in a row and getting on the excellence list. Taking this away from student takes away their feelings of accomplishment and motivation to do well. I can`t imagine my child being excited to hear that he or she is proficient in math. Being proficient does not mean anything because it has no value. I could go on for days about the silliness of this report card, but I digress. As a parent if you do not see the value in this report or are confused by what it means please contact your Superintendent.

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