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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 2, October 2006

Graduation portfolios: Concerns raised

On July 25, 2006, Minister of Education Shirley Bond, announced that the graduation portfolio would not be mandatory for Grade 12 students graduating in the 2006–07 school year.

Grade 12 students who do not complete their portfolios this year will be given an SG (Standing Granted) instead of a letter grade, and receive four credits. An SG does not carry a percentage or a letter grade and does not affect the student’s GPA (grade point average). Grade 12 students who opt to complete their portfolios can choose whether to have the per cent and letter grade on their final transcripts, or an SG (Standing Granted). Grade 12 students who choose to take an SG for grad portfolio do not have to complete their 30 hours of work or volunteer experience.

Some schools and districts are trying to keep the portfolio mandatory for their Grade 12s this year, although graduation requirements are a matter of provincial policy and Dogwood graduation certificates are awarded by the province. Others are strongly "encouraging" students to complete their grad portfolios. It is important that districts, schools, and teachers communicate to this year’s Grade 12 students and their parents, in an honest and straightforward manner, that they have the option of not completing the portfolio, taking Standing Granted, and getting four credits.

There has been no change to the Planning 10 course and the ministry expects Grade 11 students to continue working on their portfolios. Staffing that is freed up as a result of the portfolio not being mandatory for this year’s graduates should be used to reduce class size and address class-composition issues.

Bond further announced that ministry staff would be reviewing the portfolio program from September to November 2006. Contact your local for information on these meetings.

When the grad portfolio was first proposed as a grad requirement, the response was overwhelmingly negative. Teachers were very much in favour of portfolio assessment, but very much opposed to a cross-curricular or extra-curricular portfolio becoming a graduation requirement. The main reasons for the opposition were:

  • the complex and unwieldy nature of the portfolio
  • the lack of funding for implementation
  • the potential barrier to graduation for our most vulnerable students, which is an equity issue.

Concerns were also raised by other educational partner organizations including principals, superintendents, school boards, parents, and students.

For more information go to bctf.ca/IssuesInEducation.aspx?id=6246.

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