The lack of “systemwide training”, compounded by fact feeling they “have been coerced into entering grades that are inaccurate and misleading”, the Bermuda Union of Teachers (BUT) put parents on notice this week, that these “fake” grades “will cause confusion about student performance”.
In a statement released on Friday, the union said: “Due to the threat of disciplinary action, we have entered these grades under duress. We feel it is our duty to inform the public about these matters.”
The statement, released on the same day as the extended deadline for teachers to have the new-style reports ready, also said Bermuda’s public school teachers are “deeply frustrated” by how “poorly” the Standards-Based Education/Grading (SBG) has been implemented”.
“As a body of professional educators”, the Bermuda Union of Teachers (BUT) stressed that they are not opposed to the grading system.
The BUT noted that since the SBG system was first introduced in 2015, teachers “have received very little training and were left completely unprepared for its supposed hard launch in September of 2018”.
“This failing was finally acknowledged in a direct address by the Department of Education through the Commissioner in January of this year.
“The Department admitted there had been ‘insufficient support, training and communication’.
“Despite this, we have still been required to enter grades into an inadequate and problematic online grading system known as Power School which has not been properly formatted to address our system needs and loosely reflects an SBG format.”
On that note, the union said: “Systemwide training for use in this program has never officially taken place, with training instead occurring at the individual school level based on the initiative of principals. This has left teachers across the system
with various levels of competence in the use of the program.
“This is compounded by the fact that, even though it goes against best practices, we as a body of professionals are being required to convert all grades into a 0-4 scale resembling the grades that will eventually be used when SBG is fully implemented.
“In short, it is our belief that these grades are ‘fake’ SBG and will cause confusion about student performance.”
As “education professionals”, the BUT said the “lack of training in the correct use of Power School and this flawed conversion chart make a mockery of SBG and diminish the integrity of the grading process, which will only serve to confuse parents and agitate teachers”.
“We feel that we have been coerced into entering grades that are inaccurate and misleading. Due to the threat of disciplinary action, we
have entered these grades under duress. We feel it is our duty to inform the public about these matters.
“We want to make it clear that as education professionals we consider it our duty to educate children, to assess their learning on what has been taught, and to report this learning to parents with clarity, confidence and integrity.
“We feel that the way we are currently being forced to grade GREATLY inhibits our ability to accomplish this mandate.”
The deadline was extended by one week, following talks “facilitated by a Labour Relations Manager from the Ministry of Labour, Community Affairs and Sports”.
In a joint statement released on March 8, it was noted that the request was made by the BUT Executive to extend the deadline by one week to produce the new progress reports, from March 8 to March 15.
That statement also “assured that both the BUT and the Department of Education will continue to work together to deliver student progress reports by Friday,March 15, 2019”.
That deadline has come and gone and at last check parents have yet to receive the new progress reports.