At the November Education Committee we had teachers from Spencer present on the use of Digital Portfolios using FreshGrade to communicate with parents and guardians on what students are doing and how they are doing. FreshGrade is BC based digital platform. Teachers and students are able to post both work and the assessments of the work on FreshGrade and parents/guardians are given access and can both view and comment on the work. Teachers at Spencer, and most of the other schools in the district, are using this digital platform in addition to the traditional report cards that staff are still doing, essentially doing double duty.
While there seemed to be some confusion at the meeting, there are no changes to the reporting or assessing expectations that are set by the Ministry of Education, and there have been no changes in New Westminster, which have to be approved by the Board. FreshGrade does allow and encourage interactions between teachers, students and parent/guardians.
As a teacher in Surrey I have been using FreshGrade for 3 years with my Grade 6/7 classes. In Surrey some teachers, like me, are using FreshGrade as an alternative to traditional Report Cards. Students, parents and guardians get to see how they are achieving as work is handed in and assessed, as opposed to only getting the Report Card snapshot 3 times a year, and as Superintendent Duncan pointed out, often the information that parents are getting in the Report Cards is already 3 – 4 weeks out of date by the time Report Cards are issued. I find that both my students and my parents/guardians frequently respond to postings, often within minutes of posting. The comments range from encouragement and support to questions of what happened during a particular assessment or assignment to what do they plan to do about their level of achievement.
There are many teachers in New Westminster experimenting with the use of digital portfolios using FreshGrade. These folks are to be commended for reaching out and working on this digital platform to better inform parents/guardians of what and how their children are achieving. We need to be particularly appreciative since these teachers are doing this in addition to the more traditional Report Cards, essentially doing double duty.