Commissioner On Grading, Reports Cards, BUT

March 18, 2019 | 9 Comments

Teachers have a “duty to ensure that students and parents are provided with information about their progress,” Commissioner of Education Kalmar Richards said, adding that they thank “principals and teachers for ensuring report cards were provided to our students and parents.”

This follows after Bermuda Union of Teachers [BUT] said they “are not opposed” to Standards-Based Education/Grading but are “deeply frustrated by how poorly it has been implemented.”

“We as education professionals feel that our lack of training in the correct use of Power School and this flawed conversion chart make a mockery of SBG and diminish the integrity of the grading process, which will only serve to confuse parents and agitate teachers.

“Due to the threat of disciplinary action, we have entered these grades under duress. We feel it is our duty to inform the public about these matters.

“We want to make it clear that as education professionals we consider it our duty to educate children, to assess their learning on what has been taught, and to report this learning to parents with clarity, confidence and integrity. We feel that the way we are currently being forced to grade greatly inhibits our ability to accomplish this mandate.”

Commissioner of Education Kalmar Richards said, “The Department of Education is confident that teachers in the Bermuda Public School System are qualified to assess what has been learned by students each day. We appreciate the hard work our teachers do for our students, and wish to thank them for understanding the critical obligation to inform parents about student academic progress.

“The Department of Education has consistently communicated to principals, teachers and the Bermuda Union of Teachers [BUT] that we are not yet a Standards-Based Education System. We are a traditional system that has begun the process of transitioning to a Standards-Based Education System. While we transition, we have put an interim grading system in place for the 2018-2019 school year.

“The BUT indicated that our teachers require more training to implement Standards-Based Grading practices. In October 2018, the Standards-Based Grading Committee was empanelled and has developed a four-year plan to transition the System.

“Initial training started in January 2019 for all primary and middle school principals, teachers and staff. Another training session was held in February 2019. The January session re-introduced the tenets of Standards-Based Grading and the February session introduced learning intentions and success criteria.

“Given where we are with the transition to a Standards-Based Education System, we cannot expect teachers to implement Standards-Based Grading. It is with this understanding and with the understanding that most teachers in our classrooms are using traditional grading practices that all teachers at the primary and middle level have been asked to convert percentages [a traditional grading practice] to a scale of 0 to 4.

“To clarify, to convert from percentages to a scale of 0 to 4 is not a Standards-Based grading practice. This is an interim measure we are using as we transition to becoming a Standards-Based Education system. This is an acceptable practice that is used by many jurisdictions, including jurisdictions that use PowerSchool.

“We reached out to our overseas consultant who was made aware of the conversion table from percentages to a 0 to 4 scale, and they indicated that we should continue with what we are presently doing, with the understanding that it is only an interim measure until the end of this school year.

“On Friday, 8 March, 2019, the Department of Education and the BUT released a joint statement indicating that we would work together to ensure parents had report cards in hand by Friday, 15 March, 2019. We entered this joint- agreement in good faith.

“The BUT had asked for an extension of the deadline for progress reports from 8 March to 15 March, 2019. The Department of Education honoured that request and extended the date to 15 March, 2019.

“To achieve the goal of ensuring parents were provided with report cards on 15 March, 2019, the BUT indicated that teachers had retained hard copies of grades and that teachers would need time to input the grades; The Department of Education honoured this request. Principals were officially asked and gave teachers time to input grades during the week leading up to 15 March, 2019.

“The BUT also indicated that some teachers would need to be shown how to input grades. Principals, teachers and the Department of Education PowerSchool Administrator worked together to provide that support and teachers at all schools were able to update their grade books and input grades.

“The Department of Education honoured the requests for support that were identified by the BUT. Also, the Department of Education assigned IT Technicians to schools in the event of any hardware challenges with PowerSchool.

“The Department of Education can also confirm that PowerSchool, the data management system that is used to store students grades, is and has been operational to receive grades since September 2018. The Department of Education can also confirm that grades have been placed in PowerSchool, by some teachers, between September 2018 and March 2019.

“Teachers in the Bermuda Public School System have a duty to ensure that students and parents are provided with information about their progress. Parents were provided with academic and social skills progress reports on Friday, March 15, 2019.

“We thank principals and teachers for ensuring report cards were provided to our students and parents. We trust our teachers to provide parents with an accurate assessment of their child’s progress.”

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Comments (9)

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  1. Better Teaching NOW says:

    The Hopkins Report now more than 10 years old, indicated we have poor quality teaching. The Union has done nothing to work on pushing higher quality teaching. Instead the Union seems to promote low performance outcomes from teachers. This impacts our students performance.

    MR.Charles has failed teachers, and has not moved them in the right direction. His statements on the news appeared sluggish and outright with no sense of direction. Is the Union serious about improving public Education or they just busy playing games? Teachers must also invest in ensuring they have the skills to upgrade their teaching. Our children are important, and this should be the overall focus of teachers and union.

    We must move towards a more modern era in Education. Most other countries use Technology to monitor progress and outcomes within their school systems. Accountability is key, and SBG helps to do just that, as well as provide a profile of where we are as a system.

    SGB is not Rocket Science, and if the private teachers were able to learn it, what is preventing Public Educator to get on with it? Too many reasons by Educator as to why not. According to the above Training is provided to teachers, in addition to help they need ongoing.

    Come on Union stop playing games, and move forward for the sake of our Children.

    Union, work on improving the quality of teaching and learning. Save Bermuda’s Children and WORK.

    • Dude says:

      Did you inderstand what you read in the article at all?

    • Reality Cheque says:

      You said it right there:

      “SGB is not Rocket Science, and if the private teachers were able to learn it, what is preventing Public Educator to get on with it?”

      Clearly there is a problem with the teachers’ learning abilities. Let some of the students go through the training and then let THEM teach the teachers.

  2. Interesting… putting principals and teachers under the same stakes-holders’ position??
    Gee….principals are to be the heads of schools. Could Commissioner Richards have that hierarchy WRONG??
    If that be the current case…. rather disrespectful, unnecessary!

  3. question says:

    So did all the students get their report cards on March 15?

  4. Joe Bloggs says:

    ‘Commissioner of Education Kalmar Richards said, “The Department of Education is confident that teachers in the Bermuda Public School System are qualified to assess what has been learned by students each day.”’

    That may be so Commissioner, but the BUT does not appear to share your confidence in the teachers, and the BUT is the teachers’ union!

    ‘Teachers in the Bermuda Public School System have a duty to ensure that students and parents are provided with information about their progress. Parents were provided with academic and social skills progress reports on Friday, March 15, 2019.’

    Yes, and what? Is the civil service going to all of a sudden start holding civil servants responsible for performing their jobs professionally? Is the Department of Education going to start insisting that teachers abide by their employment contract terms? I fail to see your point, Commissioner.

  5. wahoo says:

    Why not cut the cost of sending each kid to public school by $10k per yer by sending them to private schools where teachers get fired for under performing? The additional benefit would be that CS can direct their attentions elsewhere.

  6. Rise says:

    Seems like an implementation plan for introducing this system was severely lacking.

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