After causing an uproar when they warned parents not to expect their children's end-of-term report cards, several Ontario school boards are now saying public elementary students will receive a summary document with their marks.
The reversals began with the Toronto District School Board, which announced Tuesday it would issue truncated report cards with no teachers' comments or marks on learning skills to students in Grades 1 to 8 during the week of July 13. The board initially said parents would receive only a letter indicating next year's placement.
The Durham school board, which had not officially announced a decision on report cards, followed suit Wednesday along with York, which has now also amended its earlier decision to issue only placement letters. Students in Durham will receive report cards with grades on June 25, while parents of York students can request a summary of their child's marks after Aug. 31 at their schools.
Teachers have refused to input marks into computers as part of their legal strike action. They will also not provide comments.
TDSB Trustee Ken Lister said the board initially balked at providing report cards because there was no way to finish them by June 25, the last day of classes. The board also expected teachers to answer any questions from parents, but the union has since directed its members not to discuss grades with parents.
"Students view [report cards] as being very important," said Mr. Lister, who added that he had been talking to many parents and kids while attending end-of-year events and graduations. "They feel like they're caught in the middle."
Principals and vice-principals will input students' marks with help from administrative assistants, superintendents, and central staff. Central staff will mail the mark summaries to the TDSB's 154,600 elementary students.
Durham has hired 20 to 25 retired staff to help input grades alongside principals, vice-principals, superintendents, the board's director and staff volunteering their time, chair Michael Barrett said.
"It's been a very Herculean effort," he said, adding that the Durham board had been working on a solution for the past week. "It is about restoring some confidence and belief in public education."
The report cards will have the usual format, but won't include teacher comments.
Rainbow District, Greater Essex and Simcoe County announced last week they will issue report cards. Halton District School Board said students transitioning to middle or high school will receive report cards, while all others can expect placement letters. The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board will issue report cards to Grade 8 students, while Grades 1 to 7 will receive placement letters. The board will announce how it plans to share marks with those students on Monday.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Peel District School Board stood by its decision to issue only letters of promotion to public elementary students. Board spokesperson Brian Woodland said parents will be able to request their children's marks from principals. The board is aiming to respond to all those requests by the end of September.
"Each board has made its own decision based on its own circumstances," Mr. Woodland said. "There is an impact from labour action, and we are dealing with it."
The Waterloo Region District School Board, with 40,000 students, will also issue just placement letters with attendance information. "We have had some feedback from families that are very disappointed that we will not have traditional report cards, as well as others who have indicated support for the board's position," spokesperson Lynsey Meikle said Wednesday. "We are listening to families and monitoring options that other boards have developed to address concerns."
Sam Hammond, president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario, which represents 76,000 teachers and educational professionals, said in a statement last week that there was no excuse for boards not being able to issue report cards once they had received hard copies of grades from teachers.
"The review and completion of report cards by principals has been significantly lessened because teachers have not submitted report-card comments under their legal work-to-rule action," Mr. Hammond said.