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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 5, March 2007

The grad requirement formerly known as portfolio

Although three pieces from the old grad portfolio remain as graduation requirements, the grad portfolio itself is gone.

On February 1, 2007, Education Minister Shirley Bond announced her decision with respect to the grad portfolio. After announcing last July that the grad portfolio would not be mandatory for students graduating in the 2006–07 school year, Bond initiated a review. In response to the feedback received in that review, Minister Bond decided that the portfolio would no longer be mandatory.

Three items in the former portfolio remain as graduation requirements but schools are no longer required to have students do a portfolio to demonstrate that they have met the requirements.

The three graduation requirements that remain are:

  • 80 hours of physical activity, in addition to the mandatory PE 10 course.  
  • a graduation transition plan that will help students set goals for post-secondary education or career pursuits. 
  • 30 hours of work experience or community service, a grad requirement that existed before the introduction of the grad portfolio.

Students must complete these three requirements in Grades 10–12. Students who meet the standards will receive four credits that count toward graduation.

These three grad requirements do not collectively have a name. The term "portfolio" is not an accurate description but the ministry has not given them a label. Someone on the ministry’s graduation listserv has called these requirements the "new three thingy thing." That may have to do for now.

There are some reasons, besides accuracy, for not continuing to call the three requirements "grad portfolio." The new ministry policy opens the door for schools and districts to require a portfolio as a way for students to demonstrate that they have met the three remaining graduation requirements.

"The Graduation Portfolio is no longer the mandatory delivery method for schools to use to meet standards. Instead, the Ministry is working to strengthen existing standards for physical activity, education and career planning and work experience and/or community service… School boards determine the appropriate delivery methods to help students meet these graduation transition standards. One way might be the development of a Graduation Portfolio."
– Deputy Minister Emery Dosdall, Feb. 1, 2007

"Starting in 2007–08, students will be required to meet three standards to graduate, and we will leave it up to school boards to decide how students meet those standards… Boards may still choose to have students develop a portfolio to demonstrate they have met the standards or boards may use other ways to ensure students have met the standards."
– Education Minister Shirley Bond, news release, Feb. 1, 2007

The minister made it clear that there will be no additional funding so districts may be reluctant to make this more complicated than is absolutely necessary. Boards will likely be wary of putting resources into maintaining or resurrecting the portfolio in the face of school closures and difficulties complying with Bill 33. On the other hand, we have already heard that one district plans to maintain something fairly close to the requirements of the existing portfolio. It is therefore important that there be broad-based teacher input into local decisions about how to document student completion of the three remaining requirements.

There was considerable disagreement in the review between people who thought the grad portfolio should remain mandatory and those who thought it should be scrapped, but everyone agreed that implementation had been a fiasco. This seems to be the one message the ministry simply did not hear. All the earlier implementation errors are being replicated. As for the grad portfolio earlier, there is no additional funding for implementation. Under the guise of "flexibility and choice," the ministry is leaving all the difficult ways and means questions to schools and districts. The ministry will release a new program guide for the three remaining grad requirements but it will be ready in September 2007, rather than this spring when it is needed for planning purposes. Dozens of questions by teachers, school counsellors, and administrators on the ministry’s graduation listserv remain unanswered.

The BCTF will try to get members questions answered and have current information on the BCTF web site: bctf.ca.

– Anita Chapman

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