Battle River school trustees vote to do away with achievement-based grading system

EDMONTON – Two weeks after they approached the Battle River School Division (BRSD) about concerns over the way they are being graded, it appears a group of Camrose students have had their voices heard.

“We’re all very excited. We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We’re happy that it’s come this fast,” said Grade 12 student Brooklyn Mazure.

Mazure was among a group of students and parents who voiced their concerns over Administration Procedure 360 (AP-360) to the BRSD Board of Trustees on Feb. 13.

Under the assessment model, students are marked with a level of achievement – beginning, developing, achieving, or excelling – rather than an exact percentage.

READ MORE: Camrose students, parents continue to fight back against grading system

But now, the Board of Trustees is making steps to change that. On Thursday, the board passed three motions, asking the superintendent to make recommendations to do away with the grading system at the high school level by the end of the school year, bringing back percentages.

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“We have met and we drafted these board motions from the policy committee to address the concerns because we don’t want the communities upset that we didn’t understand their frustrations,” said BRSD Board Chair Kendall Severson.

Alberta Education was not in attendance for Thursday’s meeting, but says it is provincial requirement to have a final percentage grade. However, the province does not have any requirements in terms of the specific way grades are reported; those decisions are left up to individual school boards.

Wildrose Education Critic Bruce McAllister attended the meeting and applauds the board for its action.

“I’m over the moon for the people in this room because they stood up and took a stand and they had their voice heard.”

However, he believes the province should be taking more responsibility on the issue.

“The Alberta Government needs to stop pressuring school boards to implement this new assessment… that parents and students and teachers don’t want,” McAllister explained.

“If Alberta Education was doing its job, it would be working from the bottom up – from the students and parents – not from the top down, from some edu-babble, airy fairy theory that nobody agrees with. This is a win for the people of Battle River.”

While it’s not a done deal yet, students say they are extremely pleased their voices have been heard.

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“We think it’s worked out very well, so we’re very happy,” Mazure said. “It just makes us hopeful for the future that we will get our percentages.”

The motions are now in the hands of the superintendent, whose recommendations will be voted on by the board on March 20.

If passed, the achievement-based grading system would be removed from the high school level. Elementary and junior high schools would continue to use the AP-360 grading model.

With files from Shane Jones, Global News.