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.

Just Posted

Work on the Mission seniors’ centre, housing project to start in the fall

Facility consists of an 11,000 square foot community centre with 74 studios above it

Charge laid in Abbotsford motorcycle crash that killed Maple Ridge woman

Megan Kinnee, 19, died in collision on July 13, 2018

Young musicians get chance to win opening act spot at Chilliwack Fair

Three finalists will vie for top spot at the Fair’s Saturday night show

Abbotsford couple bring son home from Nigeria after long adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran spent almost a year waiting to finalize adoption of Ayo, 3

PHOTOS: Fraser Valley Pride Celebration kicks off in Mission

The Stage hosted two events, including the fundraising dinner and talent showcase

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

Worried about bats? Here’s what to do if you come across one in B.C.

Bat expert with the BC Community Bat Program urges caution around the small creatures

B.C. on right road with tougher ride-hailing driver rules, says expert

The provincial government is holding firm that ride-hailing drivers have a Class 4 licence

Most Read