Chilliwack’s school trustees waded into the discussion over letter grades — and their absence — once again at the board table Tuesday night.
Trustee Heather Maahs presented a recommendation to her colleagues that they draft a policy “that ensures Letter Grades be presented as an option to parents in addition to anecdotal comments and sliding scale regardless of new curriculums or initiatives.”
However, her motion got plenty of push back around the table. And since only Trustee Barry Neufeld supported it (alongside Maahs) the motion died.
Maahs policy as presented stated: “The board believes that in order to serve parents and students in reporting student achievement, all measures must be taken to provide transparent and fulsome information on each student and their ongoing skill development in reporting to families and guardians. Parents and Guardians will be made aware in advance of report cards being issued that, if they so choose, a letter grade will be issued in addition to the anecdotal comments provided in report cards.”
Neufeld said that both anecdotal comments and grades are helpful to parents, and agreed that both should be made available. He noted that in the upcoming evaluations coming up for trustees and staff, both are used to help provide feedback.
But other trustees noted that parents already can request letter grades if that’s the method of report card they would like to receive. Currently, most students in Chilliwack do not typically recieve letter grades unless requested by parents, up until the beginning of Grade 9. The change has been gradual and doesn’t yet apply to all students.
Trustee Jared Mumford agreed that it is “an important issue,” and that many parents aren’t satisfied with the written evaluations, or the “abolition of letter grades.”
He double checked with senior staff during the meeting that parents can already ask for letter grades pre-emptively, rather than after a report card is delivered.
Trustee Dan Coulter stated that he felt such a policy would be “redundant,” since parents can already request the information as suggested. This issue was brought to the table back in May 2019, as part of an overhaul of curriculum and teaching requirements. Teachers now grade on a sliding scale and provide more comments than previously offered, in an attempt to give more detailed feedback on student success.
Trustee Darrell Furgason was absent for the meeting.