03/09/2012 11:22 EST | Updated 05/09/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. students may get report cards in April

B.C. students should get report cards in April once the government's back-to-work legislation is passed, according to the education minister, but teachers say those report cards will not be retroactive.

It remains unclear when individual school districts will issue their next report cards, but Education Minister George Abbott said Thursday that Bill 22 stipulates teachers are required to give the evaluations, and he expects them right away.

“We will be encouraging schools, teachers, principals, vice-principals to make a priority post-spring break and probably post the passage of Bill 22 to getting report cards out to parents,” Abbott said.

Abbott maintains those report cards will reflect students' performance for the entire year.

"There will be a report card that says on April the 10th this is how Johnny is doing in Grade 4. And obviously how Johnny is doing in Grade 4 will reflect how he has been doing over the course of this year. We may not ask them to go back and fill in a report card for the first semester."

But B.C. Teachers' Federation President Susan Lambert says teachers will not be catching up on the past marks, because that would negate the purpose of their job action.

"It is a basic tenet of collective bargaining that if you go on strike, struck work is not made up for after the strike. Otherwise...there would be no effect of a strike."

“[Parents] will be receiving the next set of marks, on the next report card from whenever the legislation makes us come off of our job action — from then onward,” she said.

That means high school students on a semester system may not get any marks for courses already completed.

Teachers have refused to fill out report cards since their limited job action began last September, but Grade 12 students who need grades for university applications have been getting them, says Lambert.

NDP extends Bill 22 debate

Teachers returned to class on Thursday following a three-day strike and are legally allowed to strike one day a week until the back-to-work legislation is passed.

The government says it expects the legislation will be passed into law by Thursday, before the teachers next scheduled strike vote, and before the house adjourns for spring break.

But there are more signs the passage of Bill 22 may be delayed. NDP house leader John Horgan has introduced an amendment for the government to appointment an independent mediator, rather than legislating teachers back to work.

The amendment alone could extend the debate for several more hours, but Horgan insists it's not a delaying tactic.

"I say this is not an obstacle. It's an opportunity. The government has an opportunity to get a third party mediator. There are experienced people in British Columbia that are adept at resolving labour impasses," he said.

Abbott has already said he will appoint a mediator, but only within the government's net zero mandate, and he still expects the legislation to be passed by Thursday of next week.

The teachers have scheduled their next strike vote for their annual general meeting at the end of next week.