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School report cards handled by administrators

Despite job action, student report cards will still be sent home this month.

But they won’t be written by teachers, and they won’t necessarily have grades attached to them.

Superintendent Michael Audet sent a letter home to parents earlier this week notifying them they would be receiving report cards, but the information in them would be from the perspective of principals and vice principals.

“This year’s reporting to parents is complicated by the teachers’ strike and the Labour Relations Board essential services order, which currently does not require teachers to produce report cards,” wrote Audet.

“The School Regulation (Ministry of Education, Government of BC) requires that parents receive a minimum of three report cards per year and this is the reason we have been directed to send home a report card at this time.”

However, the information will be limited.

The report cards will indicate the student’s division, name of the teacher providing instruction, the courses, and student attendance.

Grades will only be provided for classes taught by administrators, or where teachers have submitted marks to the BCeSIS system, which may not be up-to-date at the time report cards are issued.

Chilliwack Teachers’ Association president Katharin Midzain believes the exercise to be a futile one.

The Labour Relations Board ruled in the summer that report cards were non essential, and that refusing to write them was a valid right of job action. The Labour Relations Board is currently looking at that decision and deciding whether or not to uphold it.

“It is my understanding that the Labour Relations Board will be ruling on the central nature of report cards next week,” said Midzain. “It seems premature to spend such an amount of administrative time and paper on a document that may be deemed unnecessary.”

Midzain said report cards, whether administration- or teacher-written, are only a snapshot of a student’s progress, and parents should not rely on them.

“If parents are relying on report cards for a full understanding of how their child is doing in school, then they are only getting a very limited level of understanding,” she said.

“Report cards are a summary of a student’s progress up to that point in time. They don’t provide all the information a teacher has about a student, or everything a parent may want to know – there should always be further conversations.”

Job action has not suspended communication between teachers and parents, said Midzain.

In elementary schools, teachers have been talking to parents when they can – on the phone, through emails, in the hallways before and after school, through notes written in student agendas, and some have even sent individual summary sheets home.

Midzain admitted communication with parents in the secondary schools has been more difficult, as it’s “impractical to individually contact over 200 parents,” but that many teachers have been posting marks to a system that parents have access to.

The union has made it clear to their members that when job action ends and report cards are written, “no parent should be surprised with what’s in the report card,” said Midzain.

“I feel confident every teacher understands and is following through in their professional responsibility to inform parents if a child is having difficulties.”

Phase 1 of job action began in September.

kbartel@theprogress.com

twitter.com/schoolscribe33

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