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

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

A vehicle rolled over off of the Highway 3 off ramp into the Home Hardware parking lot Jan. 21, 2021. Photo: Betsy Kline
Driver sent to hospital after vehicle roll over in Castlegar

Accident happened Thursday around 4:30 p.m.

Interior Health has set up a COVID-19 testing site in Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
No new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Castlegar for Jan. 10-16

The latest localized BCDCD COVID-19 numbers

Interior Health reported 91 new COVID-19 cases in the region Jan. 20, 2021 and three additional deaths. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
95 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health, two deaths

Another member of Vernon’s Noric House has passed

Long-term care staff and physicians from the priority group received their first dose of Moderna vaccine on Friday, Jan. 15, including Dr. Corrine Knox. Photo: Submitted
Moderna vaccine arrives in Castlegar

Vaccine rollout began in West Kootenay with long term care residents and staff the first recipients

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

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

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Volunteer firefighters from Grand Forks Fire/Rescue head towards the scene of fatal car crash near Gibbs Creek Road, below Highway 3, Thursday evening, Jan. 21. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Motorist dies in Highway 3 crash west of Grand Forks

City first responders were called to the scene Thursday evening, Jan. 21

Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram could be playing for Colorado when the NHL resumes play. (Rik Fedyck/file)
Cranbrook product Bowen Byram makes NHL debut with Avalanche

Highly touted prospect marks first pro game following World Junior tournament in Alberta

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Most Read