Province soliciting public feedback on how to improve school report cards

Richard Woodbury
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Education Minister Ramona Jennex speaks at a press conference at Ash Lee Jefferson Elementary School in Fall River on Tuesday. (Jeff Harper – Metro Halifax)

The report cards in the public school system have come under fire in recent months and one Halifax-area principal agrees there is room for improvement.

“Anytime that we can be more clear in reporting out to parents is not a bad thing,” said Amy MacLeod, the principal at Ash Lee Jefferson Elementary School in Fall River, on Tuesday.

Criticisms have included that the report cards contain too much jargon.

At a news conference at the school, MacLeod pointed out teachers communicate with parents in a variety of ways about a student’s progress.

“As teachers, as administrators, we use other methods to communicate to parents and it should not just be on the report card,” she said. “That’s not the only vehicle. Conversations, newsletters, parent-teacher interviews, emails, phone calls, there are so many different ways, chats in the hallway.”

Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Ramona Jennex announced Tuesday the province is looking for input from parents and teachers about how to improve the report card system. People can submit their feedback reportcard@gov.ns.ca or by mail.

“Government has heard some parents having concerns about our report cards,” said Jennex. “Report cards need to be clear, helpful and accessible for parents.”

A former teacher herself, Jennex did not provide any examples of potential changes that could be made.

Jennex did announce that a program which provides reading support to children would be expanded across the province to include Grade 3 students by the 2014-15 school year.

Succeeding in Reading helps schools quickly identify students who need assistance to improve oral language, reading and writing skills.

At present, the program is only available for children who are in primary through Grade 2.

While some schools will be able to offer Succeeding in Reading at the Grade 3 level this year, other schools won’t be able to roll out the enhanced programming until the next school year.

The cost of expanding the program is $6 million. –Metro Halifax

Organizations: Ash Lee Jefferson Elementary School, Grade 3

Geographic location: Halifax, Fall River

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  • B Hopkins
    September 03, 2013 - 17:21

    Clarity is not the only problem regarding student report cards. For years, my report card was issued on a single sheet of paper with the percentage/letter for all terms/semesters and a short comment (usually computer generated). The new report cards printed by the Cape Breton Victoria Regional School Board come to a total of seven pages. In a high school of approximately 800, that's a total of 5,600 pages PER SEMESTER. Most of the page is blank space with a useless comment reflecting whether or not I have or have not met/succeeded the expectations for the course. If a student is heavily struggling and the parent needs to be notified, is the report card really the appropriate place for the parent to discover this? I feel as if serious concerns/comments should be kept off of the report cards and instead phoned (or emailed, this is the 21st century) to the parents of the struggling student. The CBVRSB has attempted to adopt a new online system that allows parents/students to check their marks daily, but select teachers seem to have a problem with updating in appropriate timeframes. After all of these attempts to be more efficient technologically wise, why are they wasting so much paper on these reports? Returning to a single page (or double sided) report card would benefit the board's budget and the environment.