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Montreal Families

Will new report cards get top marks?

As a teacher, one of the most stressful parts of my job was evaluating students’ work. Once report cards were sent out, inevitably parents would want to meet to discuss the grades. Some parents thought I was too easy, while others claimed I was too tough. Many expressed frustration or confusion because reports cards varied from class to class and school to school.

But that will all change this fall when the Quebec Education Ministry standardizes how students are evaluated. All schools will now be required to use the same report cards, which will be issued three times during the year (November 20, March 15 and July 10).
Ruth Rosenfield, the president of Montreal Teachers Association (MTA), notes that the education reform, which began 10 years ago in Quebec, created confusion with regard to evaluating students. Instead of basing grades on knowledge, i.e. how much or how little a student could demonstrate he had learned over the year, teachers were expected to evaluate “competencies” (focused more on how students used certain skills in their learning). Rosenfield says many teachers found grading competencies difficult and the report cards often left parents unsure about what their children were learning in school.

Nicholas Katalifos, principal of Pierre de Courbertin School in St. Leonard, says the new report cards are supposed to reduce the ambiguities and educational jargon parents had difficultly understanding. “The goal is consistency,” he says. Each student will
be given an overall mark, expressed as a percentage, for each subject. As well, parents will be shown the group average, again expressed as a percentage, for each subject. Teachers will also have space to provide written comments.

Katalifos notes that some teachers and administrators have received training on how to use these new report cards, but most will not do the workshop until the fall. Rosenfield says she is concerned that teachers will not have enough time to be properly trained before they must meet their first report card deadline on November 20. She is also concerned that report cards do not carry the same weight in terms of how they count towards a student’s final grade. The first and second report cards will be worth 20 per cent each, while the third one is worth 60 per cent of the final grade. She says that this is not necessarily a problem in the elementary-school years, but in high school, students may not work as hard in the first two terms because the grades are worth less.

For more information including a sample report card, click here.

The ABCs of new report cards

  • There will be consistency across the province. Every school has the same format, so if or when a child changes teachers, schools or even school boards, the card will remain the same.
  •  Report cards will be issued by specific dates. These will be November 20, March 15 and July 10.All teachers will be trained to evaluate students in the same way. There will be a focus on evaluating specific competencies in Math, French, English and Science.
  • Grades will be given as percentages. The cards will show both a student’s overall grade and the group average, both expressed as percentages.
  • Grades on the first two cards will each count for 20 per cent of a student’s final grade while the third one will be worth
    60 per cent.
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