Losing Letter Grades?

As a parent of school-aged children, I’m very interested in a recently circulated news story about elementary schools in Surrey, BC that are piloting a project to remove letter grading for students in grades four through seven.

Read about it here:

Surrey School District extends its ‘No Letter Grades’ program – British Columbia – CBC News.

It’s certainly created a lot of controversy, with people falling on both sides of the fence. And it seems like most of those people have a strong opinion one way or the other on this issue.

There’s the camp of people that like the idea of removing the labels, making the kids who are struggling feel less defeated, and keeping feedback in the positive realm. Not everyone fits into the good academic learner box, and kids don’t need to be told that they’re not good enough via a low letter grade. Further to this, eliminating letter grades are anticipated to force more constructive feedback, giving parents a clearer picture of where their children stand.

On the other side of the debate is the camp that thinks this change will lead to the deterioration of the educational system. That it’s the equivalent to giving everyone a medal just for showing up. This argument also suggests that it will be harder for students to transition to high school, and even more difficult to prepare for higher learning. It’s additionally argued that this move will further give children the message that there are no expectations, and children won’t be motivated to produce quality work or study hard for tests, since there will be no “A” to work for.

Now, this program is being watched carefully with the potential for it to be implemented in a more widespread manner, such as within the bounds of School District 23 (Kelowna).

I’m not sure where I fall yet, but according to a local poll done by Castanet.net, this wouldn’t be a welcome change by many

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