News Views: Job of learning

Let's not fool students about life, keep letter grades in secondary

The Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district moved away from letter grades at the elementary level this year, making them optional.

The Surrey school district is trying the same at some schools.

The concept was spurred during the teachers’ work-to-rule campaign in the first half of the preceding year – when no physical report cards were issued and parents had to communicate with teachers to get detailed progress updates about students.

The idea being piloted in the local school district is to not issue letter grades for individual subjects, but give so-called more descriptive status updates, such as exceeding or meeting expectations, or not, with discussions as to how each student can better achieve  those. It is being sold as a way for parents to be more involved, and for students to take more ownership of their learning.

But this new method is not sitting well with all parents, or students.

Some of the latter at the intermediate level enjoyed receiving letter grades, that they provided incentive and motivation toward a desired goal.

It let them knew where they stood.

Getting letter grades meant that had grown past the primary level and were being treated as more mature students, capable of handling such assessment of their work – that they were being less coddled.

They were already setting their own goals – to achieve the highest grade possible, which meant much care and effort and sacrifice, all valuable skills.

Not everyone is going to be passionate about every subject, but some will strive for excellence in all.

Parents are now worried that letter grades will soon disappear from secondary school. Then how will students apply for post-secondary institutions, and scholarships? Neither is yet a concern, as high school students still get letter grades.

But how to prepare elementary kids for increased assessments in Grade 8 then?

No student should be surprised to receive a C-minus. They know if they understood or completed the work. And they have always been able to approach teachers for help.

We know some students are stronger in some areas than others. And there are various programs for all types of learners already.

Let’s not fool our students – the adult world is highly competitive and filled with perks, rewards and assessments. After high-school, they pay to learn, and some are paid to teach. That’s called a job.

– The News

 

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