School reports must be issued by month’s end

  • Major goals: Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Progress reports for primary schools and middle school pupils have to be issued by the end of the month, the education commissioner has told principals and teachers.

The information was contained in a letter from Kalmar Richards sent to school staff last Friday on grading and reporting procedures until June, the end of the school year.

Ms Richards said that a second progress report would go to parents in April followed by a final report card in June.

She added: “These reports will be pulled from PowerSchool.”

Ms Richards said that a report on pupils’ “personal and social development” would also be provided.

She added: “This report will have to be completed manually and the first report will be sent at the end of February.”

“We recognise that based on what is being asked, we will need to provide professional learning, technical support, and improve the response time for PowerSchool when scores are being entered.

“The Department of Education will provide the professional learning, a team of teachers will provide technical support, and our IT team has put a solution in place to address technology concerns related to length of time that it takes for PowerSchool to respond when grades are being entered.”

Ms Richards added that one of the “major goals” of the Bermuda public school system was to “become a standards-based education system”.

She said: “Over the next few years, we will make this transition for the benefit of the children in our schools.”

Ms Richards added that a steering committee had charted the path for public schools to move from a traditional grading system to the standards-based model.

She said that the expectations outlined in the letter for primary and middle school teachers “take into consideration the reality of where we are in relation to our transition to a standards-based system”.

Ms Richards added that the views of principals, teachers and parents were considered and that the targets were “not determined in isolation”.

She said that teachers would score pupil assignments using a 0 to 4 scale. A four showed “advanced understanding”, while a zero represented “no or insufficient evidence”.

She added that the scale would “promote consistency between scoring from last term and this term”.

Ms Richards said: “It is important for you to note well that the scoring process that is expected ... is a traditional approach to grading and that it is only being used as an interim step as we transition to a standards-based education system.”

Training in the new system was provided to teachers and principals last month after a request from the Bermuda Union of Teachers.

Teachers have been locked in conflict with the Government over a series of problems, including standards-based grading, which the teaching union said had added stress to already overburdened staff.

Shannon James, the president of the BUT, admitted last week that not all primary and middle school teachers had uploaded grades to PowerSchool because of confusion about the introduction of standards-based grading.

However, Mr James added that teachers had kept hard copies of pupil grades.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education confirmed last week that there was “variance from school to school” in the addition of pupil grades to PowerSchool.

She promised the variations “will be reduced this month forward” and that teachers would be expected to update grades every two weeks as schools move towards standards-based grading.

Ms Richards last month apologised to teachers for “insufficient support, training and communication, and for the impact that it has had on principals, teachers and schools”.

To read the letter from the Office of the Commissioner of Education to principals and teachers in full, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”/i>