Letter to the Editor: A parent’s concern about lack of final grades for elementary school child

Teachers will not be answering parents' pleas to release our children’s marks

Elementary School Report Card
Letter to the Editor: A parent’s concern about lack of final grades for elementary school child
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Dear Mr. Euale,

We are aware that we may be one of many, many parents contacting you and the board in lieu of the announcement this past Friday. As directed, we are attempting to reach out to our children’s teachers to obtain their end of year marks with no response as of yet . If the media reports are accurate, the teachers will not be answering our pleas to release our children’s marks to us in an informal manner, although we were directed by the email on Friday to contact their teachers.

However, we wanted to reach out to you in light of the decision by the TDSB announced this am, the question on our minds (as many others) is why this strategy is not possible in Halton?
For your reference: Toronto Star: Toronto Elementary Students will get their report card despite teachers manoeuvre

In fact, although Halton has indicated it will send report cards home for certain elementary grades, which is the least to be expected for these important transition years, we would argue that other elementary grades also be given similar considerations. In our situation, we have 3 children within the Halton District School Board, all in primary grades. Do we not have a duty as a collective to ensure they are well prepared for September? That is difficult to do as a parent without some sort of feedback or indication of progress from this year. Perhaps a modified version, such as a summary of marks as the TDSB is doing should be the minimum the board/administrations provide to all the parents in Halton.

How do I teach my children the value of school and learning when they can easily shrug her shoulders and say, “What does it matter? We may or may not get grades anyway.”

We want to share with you our situation with one of our children. We share this with you with the hope that if you understand a real life situation, you, the Board and Administration will reconsider the decisions made on Friday. We are cognizant our situation is most likely not unique, but perhaps highlighting to you the difficulty you are placing parents, the concerns we have in not obtaining feedback, and the possible detrimental affects on primary learning, the decision will be altered.

Our eldest daughter (Grade Three, French Immersion) has been working hard since her last report card in February to improve her learning skills and bring her grades up to a place we believe she is capable of achieving. We also need to ensure she is well prepared for grade four, a huge transition year from primary to junior level learning. There has been a lot of work at home, extra tutoring and attempting to access the very, very limited resources at our particular school for a child who just needs a little extra support to succeed. Her teachers for the most part have tried to help within their limited means as well.

The final measure for this hard work was to be her final report card. Our daughter  is one of those kids (as are most children in my experience) where positive, tangible feedback on her progress helps builds her confidence leading to steps for success. Being only nine years old, she is also very literal. Telling her I think she did better is not what the public school system has prepared her for. At the end of it, marks are marks and one of the measures our children expect and deserve to know.

Throughout the last four months, albeit with overall positive general feedback from her teachers, her personal ultimate goal was to see her efforts translated into marks on her final report card. Can you imagine the end of the year when she holds that piece of paper in her hands to say “I did it!” Well Mr. Euale that is what is possibly being taken away from her and hundreds of students like her. That sense of accomplishment.

How do you explain to a nine year old that her efforts weren’t important enough to warrant even a letter home stating her grades? Now, as her parents, we are of course assuming her marks are improved all based on recent conversations and items coming home from her classroom. What if she hasn’t improved enough? What if we are totally off base on our own personal assessment? Well, as a responsible parent who cares about her education, if her grades haven’t significantly improved and there are still gaps in learning, we must know that as soon as possible. How are we to address possible issues this summer if we are not aware of what they are? It’s like trying to solve a problem blind folded. We have a sense, but not the whole picture.

The argument, “you should know where your child is in their learning” is not a good one. Although we may think where her grades may land on a final report card, seen improvements at home and with her tutor, we cannot know for certain how that work translates in tandem with her in-class work and learning skills. Truthfully we are not comfortable or equipped to guess what her final marks may be and we shouldn’t have to. It is the board/administration and teachers responsibility to communicate with the parents their children’s progress and final marks.

We are not political in any way and sympathize with the difficulty everyone finds themselves from the teachers, administrators and the board. We understand it is not easy for anyone. However, at the end of the day, this is not our fight. I want my children’s report cards. It is an expected duty of the board and schools to provide end of year report cards to parents. We very much hope that in light of what other boards are beginning to realize, the Halton District School Board reconsiders their position, responsibility to parents and children of their district and if not any of that, consider what you are doing to a child like my own.

How do I teach my children the value of school and learning when they can easily shrug her shoulders and say, “What does it matter? We may or may not get grades anyway.” We have spent a year trying to instil a love of learning, responsibility and foster a sense of personal accomplishment for a job well done. All values taught in their classrooms. At a pivotal time in their personal development, as we are trying to teach these primary students the importance of words like, responsibility, we believe the board and administrators be the example and make the responsible choice. Release their marks. Get it done in any way possible because when we tell our children that anything is possible, we would like to really mean it.

We will be forwarding this letter and encouraging our network of parents, organizations and media to contact you with their concerns in the hopes that HDSB responds accordingly.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing your response.
Rebecca House

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Readers Comments (2)

  1. vanessa says:

    my 4 year doesnt even want to do homework now. tachers are corrupting him.

     Reply
  2. Gordon Brennan says:

    As VP of Home and School Council at W.H. Morden, I can tell you that The Principals and Vice Principals are working extremely hard at the very least to get report cards with grades only to your children. They will be doing the work of thousands of people by themselves. They will be putting in hundreds of after hours work. They are not Political like you, they want to get the job done. They are working behind the scenes to get as much done in a limited amount of time.

     Reply



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