Job action puts elementary report cards on hold

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Elementary students will not be coming home with their first term report cards this year.

The Near North District School Board announced to parents Friday afternoon via email the production of report cards for elementary students relies on the electronic inputting of data by teachers.

The inputting of marks and comments is part of the elementary teachers’ work-to-rule job sanctions and will not be completed.

“After exploring every possible solution, at this time we are unable to provide parents/guardians with Term 1 report cards for elementary students. Marks will also not be provided to families or students at this time,” said education director Craig Myles.

“Beyond the logistical challenges, providing marks without comments and context would not be considered fulsome feedback on student achievement of curriculum expectations. As always, parents/guardians can contact their child’s teachers to learn about their child’s progress.”

High school students’ marks are being inputted, but there will be no comments.

First semester report cards will be provided for secondary students, with marks only, by Feb. 11.

Grade 12 students’ marks will be submitted to the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS) and to the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) on time so students’ post-secondary applications will not be affected.

“We know how important report cards are to families and students, and that marks, learning skills and teacher comments are valued,” Myles said in a media release.

“At the same time, report cards are not the sole nor are they the most important records of achievement data we have for your child/teen. They are simply one update on progress. As always, parents/guardians can contact their child/teen’s teachers to learn about their growth and progress.”

Parents of kindergarten students also will not receive a communication of learning report.

The school board is reminding parents that elementary and secondary teachers are currently involved in legal job action and therefore can withdraw services up to and including full strike action.

The job action is having a huge impact on individual education plans (IEPs) in school boards throughout the province.

Near North says IEPs will be updated with goals and expectations, but not provided to families at this time.

“For students who are on alternative expectations, teachers will provide a comment to administrators for each of the expectations. For students with IEPs who have accommodations and/or modifications, a mark will be reported to administration, along with an indication that they have an IEP for that subject.”

In response to the news, Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli charged that teacher union leaders are risking student success and preventing parents from seeing valuable information about their child’s performance in class.

“It underscores our government’s insistence that teacher union leaders cancel these strikes that are hurting our kids,” Fedeli said in a statement. “And it only strengthens our belief that parents want our government to invest in front-line services, not in compensation and other demands, for some of the highest-paid educators in the country.”

“This cycle needs to end,” Fedeli said Friday during the opening of his new Main Street constituency office.

Union leaders, he said, need to “stop playing games” with the withdrawal of services, which includes one-day rotating strikes affecting both elementary and secondary students.

“A negotiated settlement will keep the kids in class,” Fedeli said, adding he hopes a negotiated settlement can be reached.

Fedeli said he “won’t discuss hypotheticals” such as return-to-work legislation if teachers launch full-scale strike action.