As best as I can tell from my siftings, the Globe and Mail kicked things off on Tuesday, even including a link to the Ministry of Education memo that hasn't been posted elsewhere in its usual locations. While dialoguing with Kelly Pedro in London, she mentioned she had touched on report-card reform at the end of November— however I did note in a Dec. 23 tweet she was working on report cards again.
Throughout the day Tuesday I noticed report cards as the topic of an Ontario Today phone-in on CBC Radio One as well as a number of localized stories from various sister papers— St. Catharines' stands out most prominently.
It got to the point — and showed the power of certain media outlets — that Minister Kathleen Wynne issued a special statement on the matter Tuesday afternoon. From the statement:
The fall Progress Report Card will facilitate better communication among parents, teachers and students by assessing students early in the school year in a new format. It will evaluate students in the same areas as the report card but instead of assigning a grade or mark, it will indicate how a student is progressing — very well, well or with difficulty.Those who might look at this as a victory for teachers and their federations should perhaps take a step back and reevaluate.
The change eliminates a grading system, be it letters or percentages, from the fall report card. It doesn't eliminate the actual report. Parents should still receiving something, in writing, from their child's teacher with commentary on the child's progress to-date in the class. While I've never written a classroom report card, I've completed a number of written evaluations over years (Johnny is a great floater... he needs to remember to keep his belly up and his head back when on his back, and so on) and have always found the ones requiring original thought to be more time consuming and hence more meaningful than a system of plugging in grades and choosing from a range of pre-selected commentary. Good teachers should always be able to, virtually on the spot, provide an up-to-date verbal progress report on their student, and be able to back their statement up with written notes from evaluations.
This reportage and reaction also shows, I believe, the ever-present range of parental involvement. For those parents who monitor the children's work at school, keep up-to-date with what's being assigned, attend parent-teacher or meet-the-teacher events at the school, etc., a fall progress report — with or without grades — won't tell them much they weren't already aware of. It's the detached parents, the ones that sit back and react to the news their children are struggling in school, who will see a change.
But even then, this doesn't strike me as something that earth-shattering. That parent can still read the progress report, get angry and take away the Nintendo (I guess a Wii now, as opposed to the predecessor Commodore 64 in my day) until the next report card.