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

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

(BC Hydro photo)
BC Hydro planned power outages to darken downtown Smithers for most of day Sunday, Jan 17

Replacement of poles will affect approximately 250 customers in downtown core from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Smithers Local Health Area reported 25 new cases of COVID-19 Jan. 3 - 9. (BC CDC graphic)
Weekly new cases of COVID-19 rise to 25 in Smithers LHA Jan. 3 – 9

Northern Health reported 49 new daily cases for 497 active, 44 hospitalized, 13 in critical care

The first of two massive turbines headed from Prince Rupert for the Site C Dam near Fort St. John on Jan 10. (Photo: Supplied by Tasha McKenzie)
Massive turbines begin trek across Northwestern B.C.

Hydro-Electric turbines headed from Prince Rupert to Site C Dam week of Jan. 10 to 14

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read