News » Whistler

Gradeless reports a work in progress

Parents voice concerns at PAC meeting



The pilot gradeless report project launched in the Sea to Sky school district still has some parents confused as to how they will know their children are performing and what the process will look like.

The pilot project has been met with mixed reaction, and a Parent Advisory Council meeting Monday gave parents the opportunity to quiz Sea to Sky school district director of instruction Peter Jory and Myrtle Philip school principal Jeff Maynard on how it's going and what they can expect as the pilot continues.

One parent asked how busy teachers can accommodate a process that will take more of their time, while another asked how teachers will assess students and questioned whether that process will change.

Jory said standard tests and exams will be used to determine performance, and the gradeless reports — at first — will require more work from teachers.

Twenty-five teachers have opted to omit letter grades from report cards in favour of more frequent correspondence with parents. The initiative encompasses classes in Myrtle Philip Community School, Spring Creek Community School as well as one class each in Whistler and Pemberton's secondary schools.

Jory said the option remains for parents to continue to receive a letter grade if they choose.

"I predict we will have more teachers opt in and we will still have some parents who want letter grades," he said. "But we believe this is best for our kids. If parents believe the letter grade is important, they can still have them."

Another parent questioned if the school board will hear of opposition to the project, such as at Monday's PAC meeting.

"There still will be another survey at the end of year," he said. "As much as I can believe in this, it's my job to give (the feedback to the school board) and let them decide. If there are all these people mad about it, I have to tell them that."

Maynard said letter-grade reporting is restrictive.

"The structure is more in line with completing a task. And it becomes more of a factory model of looking at what we're doing," Maynard said. "What we're trying to do is get more in line with natural learning cycles of students."

Some parents asked what the guidelines are for gradeless reports.

"One of the things that we want to do is to get good at it — and for you to get good at it," said Jory. "One of the reasons why parents like letter grades is you know an A is good. But it also is limiting and distracting. What we want to do is give you information that is more informative and appreciative — we're giving you more access to your child."