Chilliwack school district wants feedback on grade changes

School district considering changing the makeup of Chilliwack's schools, with middle school and senior high starting sooner for students



The discussion around shifting grade configurations in Chilliwack continues, with an online survey created by the school district.

The survey asks the public for opinions and thoughts on moving middle school down a year, creating one less year in elementary school and one more year in secondary school. The potential change is an attempt by the district to address key issues, including increased enrolment, and a need to align with the Province’s newly-implemented curriculum.

Currently, elementary school in Chilliwack runs from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Middle school runs Grade 7 to 9, and high school, 10 to 12. Under the proposed plan, elementary school would cut off at Grade 5, the Grade 6 students would go to middle school, and the Grade 9s would move to secondary school.

The exceptions are GW Graham and Rosedale middle. GW Graham already has a composition of Grade 7 to 12, but could include Grade 6. Rosedale currently is a K to Grade 9 school, and could become a K to Grade 8 school.

There were two public meetings held in late October that were both well attended, one at Sardis secondary and one at Chilliwack secondary. There were mixed reactions from attendees, with many seeing the positives and negatives of a reconfiguration.

All of the information gathered from those meetings, other stakeholder meetings, and the online survey, will be compiled into a report to the school board early next year. School district staff have not yet ruled out making the changes as early as September 2017.

The online survey is open until Dec. 21, and is open to everyone in the community.

The rationale behind the proposal is included in the online survey, which is available on the school district’s website.

The district says the reconfiguration could accommodate changes in the redesigned B.C. curriculum.

“In the new curriculum, Grade 6, along with Grade 7 students, are expected to experience a minimum of three modules of Applied Design, Skills and Technologies from choices such as: Drafting, Entrepreneurship & Marketing, Food Studies, Media Arts, Metalwork, Power Technology, Robotics, Textiles, Woodwork. The reconfiguration would address the efficient use of resources for our students accessing the redesigned curriculum.”

Elementary schools don’t have the space for these sorts of specialized classes. Some people at the meetings suggested Grade 6s could travel a few times a week to middle schools, while others said that would be a logistical nightmare.

The district also hopes the changes would “promote strong student-teacher relationships as a key to successful transitions across and between grades and schools.”

While under the same roof, under the new configuration, Grade 6 and 7 students would have one core teacher and Grade 8 students would have multiple teachers.

The change could also give Grade 9 students more access to different types of classes one year earlier, provide more opportunities for students interested in athletics, improve instructional spaces at lower grades, and support the district’s greater goal — securing additional funding for building new schools.

The online survey uses a combination of multiple choice and open ended questions.