BC is moving to a system without letter or number grades
In 2016, BC made a seismic change in its education system – articulating goals for K to 12 education far beyond the acquisition of the 3 R’s.
Instead of going “back to basics,” the province introduced a focus on core competencies that cross all curriculum, and include skills like communicating, collaborating, personal and social awareness and responsibility, and creative and critical thinking. The goal of the move was to ensure that students left school with the foundational skills and competencies necessary to do things like transfer learning from one area to another, solve complex problems, continue to learn, and thrive no matter what their pathway after graduation.
“The curriculum for each subject area includes the essential learning for students, which represent society’s aspirations for BC’s educated citizen. The redesigned curriculum develops around key content, concepts, skills and big ideas that foster the higher-order thinking demanded in today’s world.”
Moving beyond simplistic marks
In 2023, the province announced that it is going one step further and eliminating letter grades for kindergarten to grade 9 students so that reporting matches the focus on core competencies and higher-order learning. Instead of letter grades or percentages, the new reporting focuses on “descriptive feedback” and involves both teachers and students. Teachers will provide feedback in accessible language that describes where students are in their learning in any subject and where they need to grow. This will include a “proficiency scale” that shows a student’s progress along a continuum from emerging, to developing, to proficient, to extending. In addition, all students will have to provide a self-assessment of their progress in the core competencies and describe their goals for moving forward.
To ensure that students and parents/guardians are always up to date on a student’s progress, they will receive at least 5 communications of student learning per school year, with a minimum of three provided in writing. The province has provided information packages in multiple languages for parents and guardians to explain the new system.
For now, letter grades and percentages will stay in place for grades 10-12 so that students can transition to post-secondary learning. But the province has committed to working with post-secondary institutions to explore using Provincial Proficiency Scale at Grades 10-12.