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Calgary Report Cards Drop Letter Grades, Eliminate Teacher Comments

06/11/2013 03:53 EDT | Updated 06/11/2013 03:53 EDT
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Some Calgary students will be bringing home reports cards without letter grades next year.

Schools will test a redesigned report card for Kindergarten to Grade 9 students, which drop letters grades and instead uses the words “exemplary,” “evident,” “emerging” or, “support required.”

According to the National Post, failing grades will now be marked as "support required." If their progress improves they will be upgraded to "emerging."

“So there will be indicators that talk about how the student is achieving in a variety of measures rather than a specific mark,” Frank Bruseker, president of the Calgary Public Teachers Association, told CBC Calgary.

The report cards will come out just twice a year, as opposed to the previous three to six times annually, and personal comments from the teacher will be eliminated.

The move is win-win for all involved, Bruseker told the Calgary Sun. Cutting personal remarks will reduce time spent by teachers preparing report cards and parents will have more information about their child's performance.

“I had a number of calls from teachers saying at elementary level they were spending in two hours per student report card and if they had 25 students they were spending 50 hours, sometimes 60 hours to produce report cards,” said Bruseker.

The move, however, does not sit right with everyone.

Jeff Bowes, head of the Association of Parent and School Councils, told the CBC, "We have concerns about the removal of comments from report cards. Personally, I find the comments often have the most valuable information on the report card."

Peter Cowley, director of school performance studies at the Fraser Institute, told the National Post that phrases like "evident" and "emerging" are a vague indicators of performance and parents will not have a clear understanding of how their kids are doing.

Jim Field, an associate professor with a specialization in assessment at the University of Calgary’s faculty of education, told the National Post the opposite is true, however.

“The education research says this, that grades don’t communicate really well with parents,” he said.

“What does an A in Language Arts in Grade 3 mean? What can that student do with the language? Can they comprehend the text well in terms of concrete, real world skills? What does that mark mean?”

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