Grading Edmonton Public Schools Grading and Assessment…

*Update June 1st: I wanted to clarify a couple of misconceptions I have heard and seen in social media. First of all, EPSB does not have a district-wide “no zeros” policy. Each school is free to establish their own policy guided by Alberta Education Guidelines. Students must do work to receive credit and students must have the required number of credits to complete high school. Each school provides parents and students information on how assessment works at their school so if you have specific questions, please contact your local Principal.*

On Tuesday, June 12th at our next EPSB Board meeting I intend to move the following notice of motion:

“That the board direct the Policy Committee to review district assessment practices.”

I have received inquiries seeking clarity or expressing concern about how EPSB grading and assessment, especially with regard to whether or not a student should receive a zero (or no grade at all) for incomplete work.

As trustees we have the opportunity to suggest the review of any district policy or practice, assuming the majority of our colleagues agree.

Valid questions have been raised about how we teach accountability, resiliency and good citizenship to our students. The district priorities we’ve established speak to the development of the whole learner. They stress literacy and numeracy, but also speak of empathy and equity as key citizenship traits. Public education is about much more than grades and so much more happens in school than merely testing. Today’s graduates are your future doctors, drivers, and neighbours. What skills do you want them to have?

For me, broadly, this issue is about how we teach responsibility and self-discipline, while fostering and nurturing a love of learning:

  • How do we ensure that our assessment practices aren’t inadvertently driving the students who need the most help to drop out?
  • If we truly believe that success for every student is possible, how do we ensure teachers remain focused on bringing out the best from the difficult and struggling students?
  • How do we ensure that our students are proud of their work and that the diplomas we hand out are respected and that our students have a genuine sense of accomplishment?
  • How, can, or should we separate assessment of learning from behavioral issues?
  • How do we ensure that students are ready to face the demands of the work world or post-secondary professors?

The District has posted some information online with regard to how students are graded:

http://news.epsb.ca/2012/05/why-do-we-grade-students-the-way-we-do/

I’m excited that an education policy issue has attracted such considerable attention. After all, this is why we have a democratically elected and led public education system!

What do you think? Leave a comment or fire me a note at michael.janz@epsb.ca or michael@michaeljanz.ca.