Report cards for some kindergarten to Grade 7 students will look a bit different next year.
Actually, it won’t be a report card at all. That’s old language, said School District 69 (Qualicum) assistant superintendent, Gillian Wilson.
Those summary reports are now referred to as “informing parents of their child’s learning,” she said.
And the reports are built to do just that, by using evidence and commentary rather than giving a rank or grade.
Next year, teachers from kindergarten to Grade 7 can elect to use a new reporting template that makes use of the portfolios many teachers are already using to document and share class learning with parents.
Created by teachers through a special committee that’s been working on the template this past school year, the work is meant to reflect Ministry of Education changes to the School Act, said Wilson. School districts were asked to create their own policy based on those changes.
“We’ve been really shifting the language from that snapshot… in November, February, June, to talking about learning journeys,” said Wilson. “And creating opportunities to share, or communicate student learning with parents on an ongoing basis.”
One way to do that is through e-portfolios, which allow teachers to collect pictures or video of what their class or students are doing that day, and make it available to the students’ parents or guardians digitally.
“If a teacher is electing to use an electronic portfolio, there might be a note in (a student’s) planner that says, ‘Go into Johnny’s portfolio today. He did a cool thing in science,’” said Wilson.
“So the parent can go on, and they can say, ‘Hey, I can see you did this experiment. Tell me a little bit more about that.’ So it provokes more conversation… it allows for parents to be more engaged.”
Last year, SD69 saw its report card didn’t fit with its new assessment practices. A committee made up of teachers and other staff was tasked with “creating some guiding principles around what assessment should look like, and some parameters around what we want to include into a portfolio,” and a reporting template, Wilson said.
The idea is to use portfolio artifacts to show evidence of how children are learning in reports to parents.
This continues the districts’ transition away from letter grades.
Letter grades haven’t been used in Grade 5 and below for about 30 years in SD69, said Wilson, nor in Grade 6 or 7 for four years.
The idea now is to provide descriptive feedback that can show students and parents where students excel and where their learning needs to continue.
“We really believe in supporting that descriptive feedback, that ongoing conversation around what the next step might be versus, ‘that’s an A, that’s a B,’ because that’s not informing somebody in terms of where they can go next.”
While the school district has created guiding principles around assessment and what a good portfolio artifact is, Wilson said the new template is meant to compliment what teachers are already doing. It’s available for use next school year on a voluntary basis as part of a pilot project.
Wilson added that the ministry is having conversations with post-secondary institutions about assessment of Grade 10 to 12 students as well.
In general, Wilson said, the teaching philosophy of the new curriculum is moving away from the memorization of facts.
“It’s not about filling heads with content,” she said. “It’s helping students become more engaged in the learning process and become critical thinkers and problem solvers and all those traits that we know are the employable skills. Anybody can go to their device on the end of their fingers and find out (facts). We need to help them know how to get and access information rather than remember it.”