Measuring success key in new curriculum

Ministry of education looking for feedback on how parents want to be informed on their child’s progress in school

The new province-wide public school curriculum will focus more on individual progress and less on meeting preconceived standardized benchmarks, which is why a new way to assess student success needs to be established, according to the provincial government.

To that end, the Ministry of Education is changing the way schools test for competency and is looking for public feedback on how parents and guardians want to be informed about their child’s progress. The government says that between June and October, “parents will be consulted on what they want to know about their child’s progress and how they want to get that information,” though how exactly that will happen has not been specified.

School District 72 superintendent Tom Longridge says many of the changes won’t affect our district too much, since the provincial changes move towards what we’ve been doing here already, at least in our elementary and middle schools.

Instead of periodic report cards being sent home to tell parents where their child is at in terms of their learning, the focus will now be on “in-class assessment” and regular communication with parents and caregivers, the government says, which is how we’ve been doing it here for some time.

“In this district we have not given out grades from K-8 for a number of years now, but are instead involved in a continuous conversation with parents in regard to where their students are,” Longridge says, adding that it’s his understanding that parents appreciate being continuously informed about their child’s progress rather than receiving a report card three times per year.

High school assessments will be the biggest change in our district under the new system.

Beginning in two years (the 2017-18 school year), Longridge says, high school students will complete two provincial assessment exams – literacy and math – rather than the previous five subject-specific provincial exams.

Longridge says they don’t feel this change will cause any problems for students enrolling in University or college, as there will still be “marks” to look at from Grade 11 and 12 literacy and math exams – which are the grade levels schools look at anyway when it comes to granting enrolment.

The government also says post-secondary institutions both within and outside B.C. have been consulted on the new curriculum and assessment system and they are confident the changes will “improve the seamless path” for students continuing their education beyond high school.

But Longridge says they will definitely be keeping their eyes on that aspect, “to make sure that no students will be negatively impacted by these changes,” adding he feels the changes allow teachers, parents and students to have “more flexibility and opportunity rather than narrowing focus and narrowing expectations.”

Overall, he welcomes the changes.

“We are very excited about it because we feel it will be a positive change,” he says, ”and we feel it facilitates and enhance what’s happening in the changing curriculum.”

For more information on the new curriculum and its implementation, head over to curriculum.gov.bc.ca, or use the link on the SD72 website at sd72.bc.ca