Primary School Grades Don't Matter Anyway

As part of their job action, my kids' teachers won't be entering grades into the report card system. I'm A-OK with that.

I simply don't care what grades my kids receive in primary school. I never have, and I never will. In fact, I'd be happy if grades disappeared forever from primary school report cards. These teachers with their job action are doing us a favour.

It's the comments I care about. Ideally, there would be even more meat on that bone. Tell me how my child works independently, with others, and if you believe there are any learning disabilities or disciplinary concerns. Of course, if there actually was an issue, it's not as if I'd be learning about it for the first time on a report card. A solid dialogue with the teacher would have revealed any such concerns long ago.

I'm lucky in that my grade five and grade seven children are excellent students, but even if they struggled and received poor grades, they'd be promoted. Kids today can't fail even if they try. The grades truly do not matter.

In high school, this starts to change. Universities will reject students who don't have sufficient grades, so grades become very important. Unfortunately, that means learning becomes less importance. The more importance placed on a final grade, the less incentive there is to learn and leave your comfort zone.

For example, when I was in high school, I knew the marks that the University of Toronto would look at when I applied there. I needed a math, and to satisfy other criteria, but I could cherry pick the classes I knew I could ace with minimal effort. I intentionally avoided difficult classes, because I knew the grades were all that mattered. If your goal is learning, this is counter-productive.

Withholding my children's grades this year doesn't have this parent angry. It has me grateful.


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Comments (40 - click here to join in!)

Argie

@Mike
I agree to a certain extent. Sure, at these grade levels we don't need actual numbers but the reason the teachers are with holding it is dubious.

The way I look at it is if the teachers don't want to go that extra mile for their students (that they claim to care about so much) all parents should with hold their year end present they usually give to their child's teacher (i.e. Starbuck, Tim's, Cineplex, etc gift cards).

Sounds fair to me.

June 15, 2015 @ 3:17 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Argie

I don't like the way we got here, but I'm glad we're here. I just wish we'd stay here.

Primary students shouldn't be graded.

June 15, 2015 @ 3:33 PM

sheesh

20 dollar gift card for working through lunch hour (normally),
hours of volunteer work (committees, activities),
hours of grading and prep after regular school hours,
Summer school to upgrade skills,
Setting up the classroom starting the second week of August,
staff, committee, consultant, team teaching meetings on top of everything else,

making sure children are dressed warmly for recess,
are not bullied,
have lunch, have snack,
meetings with parents after regular school hours,
shopping for classroom supplies (often personal expenditures)
making sure children have gifts to take home (usually crafts activities that require extra time)
for Fathers Day, Mother's Day,
ordering supplies through the board catalogue,
visiting libraries for classroom books,
booking Scientists in the Schools, visiting artists,
Preparing students for assemblies and concerts,
ALL WHILE TEACHING A HEAVY CURRICULUM LOAD
the list could go on and on.

YES, by all means withhold that gift card.

June 15, 2015 @ 5:30 PM

Sammi

@ sheesh

blah blah blah blah

If I were to list my duties at my job and how many weekends and nights I had to work and I only get 3 weeks vacation it would make your list look like an hour in my day. If a teacher doesn't like what they do...go find another job.

June 15, 2015 @ 6:59 PM

sheesho

I'm sure 95% of teachers love the profession they have invested years in training to accomplish and are taking job action to maintain professional and community standards. That's not really what the discussion is about however.

June 15, 2015 @ 7:14 PM

Sheesho

'Quitting what you don't like and doing something else' is really a non-sequitur in this situation i.e. a non-applicable argument. It's like looking at somebody fixing a hole in a boat and yelling at them if they don't like fishing to go to another lake.

June 15, 2015 @ 7:16 PM

Ted

What you forgot to mention is that the psychological, physical, and emotional well being of the child in the classroom depends upon the teacher's attention. How many people think this is an important job in our society? Certainly every parent. Some cultures value education.

June 15, 2015 @ 8:16 PM

Jewelgurl

I totally agree with you on this one Mike. Marks are irrelevant in Primary Grades. The comments written by the teacher were so much more meaningful and reflective of how my children were progressing in school. As for the Teaching profession I think Teaching should be deemed an essential service. As a Nurse, I am not able to Strike or deliver care that is not of expected and regulated standards. The Teachers must find alternate means such as filing grievances, alerting the health and safety board, etc to rectify their concerns. The recent strike in Durham region went on 6 weeks longer than it should have for the kids in High School.

June 15, 2015 @ 9:04 PM

Rick C in Oakville

Maybe until grades 3 or 4, grades wouldn't matter, but somewhere you need to start instilling the value of hard work, and the rewards of a good grade. If in grades 7 or 8 you start with an expectation of achieving certain marks to get to your choice of stream in High School, some kids that have been pushed through to this point would fall further behind, and a whole set of new problems will surface.
Essential service designation will solve nothing in this case, the 2 sides need to hammer out a deal, as the compensation usually awarded by the arbitrators would end any reining in of the costs in this system. The Liberals let the 6 week walk out go on for far too long, 2-3 weeks and a solution should have been found. Ridiculous that some grade 12's have missed a good portion of sciences and math they will need in the fall at College or University because of this.

June 15, 2015 @ 10:47 PM

Cheryl 2

The way the world is going would these kids be better off figuring out ways to survive outside the 'test scores/ good grades' system and figure out how to build a life independent of what we expect as 'successful.'

June 16, 2015 @ 7:23 AM

Argie

@sheesh
You also forgot:
Getting to work at 8:30
Leaving at 3:30
An hour for lunch - everyday!
When the class has gym, library or French, they get a free period
Two months off in the summer
Retire at 56, with an awesome pension
Discounts on goods and services the real world doesn't get
Never having to worry that you may be fired because you stink at your job

Should I go on?

June 16, 2015 @ 8:25 AM

lb71

Perhaps you don't care about your child's grades, but maybe they do. They've worked all year, and now they don't know how they've done. I want to share with my kids the gratification of seeing the grades they have earned after the work they put into their school year. You are right, those grades don't matter in the long run. But they do matter now and in different ways.

June 16, 2015 @ 8:37 AM

Cambo

Grades, to me, do matter; because I can see where there are areas that my child would be struggling in. I want to know, so that I can get some additional help BEFORE it becomes a chronic problem.

What's the point of a test, then? What is the point of an A/B/C? If you're consistently getting C's in one subject, maybe you want to address that. Without grades in the report card, you're never going to know and going into high school with that, sets the kids up for failure in that given area.

Yes, grades do matter. Maybe not so much in grade 5 and down, but most certainly in grades 6-8 and into high school.

June 16, 2015 @ 10:11 AM

Ted

Actually Argie you are wrong about most of that but does it matter to you. Doubtful.

June 16, 2015 @ 10:48 AM

Argie

@Ted
No, I'm right. I know many teachers and this is what they tell me.

June 16, 2015 @ 10:50 AM

Ted

That's anecdotal 'evidence' and therefore not admissible. I know the opposite to be true from first hand observation.

June 16, 2015 @ 10:56 AM

Broni

@ Argie

Don't discredit your argument by including items that are not correct, or are not a big deal:

- Why is it a problem for a teacher to arrive at 8:30? I arrive at my job at 8:30
- Why can't a teacher receive a one-hour lunch? Everybody should be entitled to that.
- I can only speak for my childrens' school, but when students head off to another classroom to take French, gym, library time etc., other classes head to my kids' teachers for art, social studies, music
- Discounts on good & services? Lots of companies offer their employees that. That's not exclusive to anybody.

I'm not here to debate your other points, because on a teacher-by-teacher basis you may be correct. But please don't create a list of 8 items where 4 of the items are "so what's".

June 16, 2015 @ 11:26 AM

Argie

@Broni
What time do you leave your office? If you work in the private sector you're likely working until 5.

I agree some teachers do work hard and actually care for their students but we also have to acknowledge many others don't and have no business complaining about "conditions." My daughter's teacher has taken at least 1 sick day a month during this past school year. I cant remember the last time I took a single sick day (5 or 6 years ago?).

Anyway, you can have the last word. I'm sure you'll receive some help from the other apologists here.

June 16, 2015 @ 11:38 AM

Broni

@ Argie

I'll totally agree with you about anybody who miraculously has a sick day one day per month. Exactly like my co-worker who miraculously has a sick day on the Tuesday after many long weekends. That is not a teacher issue, it is a human-being issue.

You're correct that I work until 5, but becasue of the nature of my work, many days I can leave when I want, and work from home or on the road for half the day. A properly-working teacher will do the same - what do I care if my kids' teacher leaves the school at 3:30 and spends 2 hours after dinner marking tests and working on the following day's plan?

It is unfair to paint an entire profession with the same brush - every industry has employees that milk the system, but most do not. And that includes teachers.

And none of the above makes me an apologist.

June 16, 2015 @ 11:48 AM

Ben V

Argie hates teachers. End of.

I would say more than 4 of the 8 points are incorrect.

Their pension they pay into heavily, it isn't a freebie.

Two months off in the summer, their pay cheque is actually based on 10 months.

In at 8:30 out at 3:30 isn't even true. They have yard duty in the morning before school, yard duty at lunch, after school bus duty in primary. Caoching teams and volunteering for extra curiculars. When does the marking get done? During school? No after school in the evenings? The crafts and day plans do they magically appear? No. They have to write them.

As for the sick days. If the teacher of your son or daugther takes the same day off every month, it might seem suspicious, and perhaps it is. But on the other side of things what if they have medical condition? My sister has to take a sick day once a month to get treatment for Dermatomyositis where she gets hooked up to an IV for the day to recieve a mixture of blood proteins. If you worked around 20 kids in a classroom whether they are 4 or 10, it's a breeding ground for bacteria. Immune systems are inherently put at risk as a result.

I do however disagree with banking sick days, whether you are a teacher or not.

Perhaps the teachers you are friends with that state how little they have to do or how good they have it are the teachers we all remember being terrible. from our days in the classroom.

Back to the whole grade debate. I do think grades matter, but they can't matter in a world where a student can't be held back or fail a grade.

However if you are routinely involved in your child's life and don't just put your kids in school and think the education system will solve all their learning issues you should know where their areas of weakness are. The students with parents that aren't involved usually have the most issues and find the biggest surprises when it comes to report card time. Parent teacher nights are invaluable just for that reason alone.

June 16, 2015 @ 2:35 PM

Outrage

A teacher in Scarboro just got 10% off some Crayola markers.

My head is going to explode.

June 16, 2015 @ 2:56 PM

Argie

@Ben
And as predicted, here come the usual apologists. I'm aware your mother taught so you might be a little biased (OK, a lot biased). Oh wait, your sister is a teacher too? There's a lot of that nonsense too - nepotism much?

June 16, 2015 @ 2:56 PM

Argie

@Outrage
If you're trying to be funny - try harder.

June 16, 2015 @ 2:57 PM

Outrage

Holy god almighty can somebody do something about this? Patrick Brown? Argie? Anybody?
She's using the Crayola markers for PERSONAL USE. She made a 'Get Well' card. Her daughter just had her wisdom teeth out and is quite under the weather. THE TEACHER TOOK A DAY OFF WORK TO DRIVE HER DAUGHTER TO THE DENTIST and back home. Can somebody stop this madness? Argie? Patrick Brown? The Koch Brothers?

June 16, 2015 @ 3:09 PM

Jewelgurl

@Outrage........I think your funny!

June 16, 2015 @ 3:49 PM

Outrage

@ Jewelgurl,

:-).


June 16, 2015 @ 4:42 PM

Ben V

No my sister isn't a teacher, she's in a completely different industry. I'm making the point that she takes the same day off each month no matter what and it isn't because she's scaming the system

As for my mother being a teacher, the bias is only in that I knew what she had to do for her class. Even if she was lazy and shirked 75% of the responsibilities required past the 8:30-3:30 time frame it still negates the majority of your initial points.

There is no BIAS in me saying they pay for the pension they get or that their pay is only for 10 months of the year. Those are simply facts vs. what you stated. Which were uninformed opinions.

June 16, 2015 @ 4:45 PM

GUNTer

where's my 10% off fucking Crayola's?????
In these tough economic times.....

June 16, 2015 @ 6:40 PM

Ted

Agree with you about the report cards Mike and I must say what a blessing for those kids to be free of those standardized tests turning everybody into a standard model at least for this year.

June 16, 2015 @ 7:07 PM

beep beep

You can get Crayola markers at the dollar store.

June 16, 2015 @ 7:09 PM

argie

@Jewelgurl
No, I think "your" funny.

June 16, 2015 @ 8:10 PM

Sheesho Spelling and Punctuation Dept.

Argie

@Mike
I agree to a certain extent. Sure, at these grade levels we don't need actual numbers but the reason the teachers are with holding it is dubious.

The way I look at it is if the teachers don't want to go that extra mile for their students (that they claim to care about so much) all parents should with hold their year end present they usually give to their child's teacher (i.e. Starbuck, Tim's, Cineplex, etc gift cards).

Sounds fair to me.
June 15, 2015 / 15:17


I'M GLAD THE TEACHERS ARE 'WITH HOLDING' IT. WHAT ELSE ARE THEY 'WITH?' AND WHAT ELSE ARE THEY 'HOLDING?'

June 16, 2015 @ 8:21 PM

Sheesho Self-Criticism Panel in Session

Perhaps 'WITH' in my question should not have had a question mark. One might have done.

June 16, 2015 @ 8:23 PM

argie

@Sheesho
You got me. I blame auto correct.

June 16, 2015 @ 9:21 PM

Sheesho at the Gates of Dawn

Argie,
I didn't mean to 'get you' as much as say 'Hey give Jewelgurl a break.' Everybody hits a 'snag' now and then.

June 16, 2015 @ 10:25 PM

Argie

@Sheesho
I hear ya. Enjoy the day.

June 17, 2015 @ 10:01 AM

Jewelgurl

@ Argie........I think "you're" a scrutinizing man with too much time on your hands. I think you should spend "your" time doing more productive things like working on your social skills and realizing that the comment section of a blog is a place for people to exchange ideas. The best comments sections, of which I think Mikes is one, is full of smart, curious people who don’t spend as much time finding flaws in spelling or looking for perfect answers (are there any?) as finding good questions and exchanging commentary. The best comments sections are full of people helping each other to sharpen the questions we ask.

June 17, 2015 @ 1:13 PM

Argie

@Jewelgurl
But, I was trying to "help you." You committed the annoying, yet common crime of getting your "yours" mixed up. I know, correction can be painful but think of this as a learning experience. I would never post something to simply mock another commenters opinion or ideas - ok, maybe a little...

June 17, 2015 @ 2:12 PM

Ian from Etobicoke

People are pissed off about teachers getting a decent salary (EVEN GASP A LUNCH HOUR) but nobody is pissed off about rich kids inheriting cottages, stock portfolios, property, getting prime company positions through nepotism, never going to bed hungry, eating at the finest restaurants, etc... It's quite astonishing. A class system of inequality through blind luck is fine - but somebody in the middle class who works hard and has a few decent benefits is to be kicked to the curb.
Isn't it funny and odd how we perceive society?

June 17, 2015 @ 5:07 PM

J9

Kids go to school to learn. In order to gauge whether they are learning, their work needs to be graded. % graded, letter graded, colour of star, doesn't matter, this information lets us as parents know if the child is learning the material effectively, and is therefore very important information.

I find it very sad that the Teachers Union can order the teachers to not use the technology at hand in order to submit marks. In the end, this directive will only serve to antagonize the parents (and the students) and create a no-win situation for the principals and administrative staff.

June 17, 2015 @ 6:48 PM

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