By Mike Leschart, Daily News Staff
Children with failing marks in school will not repeat the entire grade, the Peace River South School Board re-confirmed yesterday, but will instead continue to work on the components causing them difficulty.
“No South Peace students failed an entire grade last year, and the board will continue to make sure this doesn’t happen”, said Chair Yvonne Elden yesterday.
“We really frown upon failing primary children”, she said. “It’s extremely damaging to the psyche and it really doesn’t help the child. It doesn’t help identify why the child failed.”
Some parents are adamant, though, that failing their child is the best thing to do, and they will still have that option available. A parent can appeal to the board by filling out a form, and ensure their child repeats the year.
Unless this happens, however, no child will be forced to repeat. Instead, the student’s problem areas are identified, and an alternate program provides extra help. The child is allowed to advance with their peers, and avoid the psychologically damaging and esteem-eroding prospect of repeating a year.
The board has had this policy in place for some time, but it unanimously re-passed a similar policy yesterday with one small change — when a child is unable to meet the Learning Outcomes at a grade level, there will be a school-based team meeting prior to April 1 of the school year.
The child’s problem will be assessed early, in hopes of helping them work through the problem before the student advances very far through the school system.
“The idea is to help rather than hinder,” Elden said. “Sometimes people do make it to high school without being identified.”
Even in secondary school, a student can pass through classes with problems and poor marks. While a student can fail a class, there is no pre-requisite for the next level. Although they can advance through the system, the student will have problems after high school when attempting to enter trade schools or colleges. The board intends to intercede before this happens.
“We’re going to identify kids early,” Elden said. “We can see when they’re having difficulty, we’re going to have meetings with the classroom teacher, the counsellor… and we’re going to see what we can do to set up a program to help this child.”
There can be many reasons a child is having problems with school at an early age — a learning disability, an attention deficit disorder, fetal alcohol, or simply a disruptive home life — and the board intends to recognize these as soon as possible.
The alternative, Elden said, simply doesn’t work. “Failing them so they stay in a grade another year, and repeat the same old stuff, not necessarily getting any better at it — that takes no account of what the child may have learned along the way.”