Waterloo’s engineering program discounts grades from two Oakville schools

It should be no surprise that universities have discovered over time that a mark from one high school is not equal to one from another one. A recent article in the Toronto Star flags Waterloo’s engineering programme, one of many toughest to find yourself in in Canada, as having developed an adjustment factor. Among those whose marks the programme discounts probably the most were two Oakville schools: King’s Christian Collegiate and St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Secondary School. Shockingly, Oakville homes found itself singled out as needing a significant mark discount when evaluating applications.

Back in the 1960s, when the boomers who shaped the existing Ontario were in high school, about 3% of students became Ontario scholars. Now it’s a lot more than 60%. Kids could be smarter, and teaching may be better, but it is not believable that students leaving high school are that much more able. Clearly, good marks are much easier to obtain than they was previously, and in a few schools more than others.

Higher marks result in a lot of problems. It becomes very hard to distinguish between the best students whenever there are so most of them. Maybe even worse, students are resulted in believe they’re more prepared than they actually are and face sometimes substantial and life-changing disappointment if they arrive in post-secondary education.

This recent Maclean’s article gives an insight into what this may mean to students facing the truth of post-secondary standards, some of whom determine they ought to not have been in the institution in the first place. Nevertheless, universities and colleges can merely raise their admission standards, and that is what they have done as mark inflation has run rampant across Ontario.

However, when that inflation is uneven from one school to another, it makes the post-secondary institutions’ job a lot more difficult. Based on the Star’s article, Waterloo is rolling out its adjustment factor in line with the performance of students from the given school in the first year of these engineering programme as time passes. It has to have enough students to help make the comparison meaningful and set up a pattern.

Before 1960s, province-wide exams, known as “departmentals,” contributed to the high school leaving marks of Ontario students. These were graded anonymously, after being shipped to Toronto, by teachers other than those that had taught the students.

While Scholastic Aptitude Tests (now simply called SATs) in america assessed capability to learn, the departmental exams assessed achievement, which senior high school graduation marks generally represent. These exams were much like Advanced-level (A-level) exams in England, or Baccalaur�at exams in France, which persist (as in most Europe), and in those countries produce 100% of the marks given to universities and colleges for admission. (The International Baccalaureate (IB) works on these principles and comes in Ontario. Many top international universities have greater confidence in such evaluations than in marks assigned by schools with that they have little if any experience.)

These exams are country-wide. All teachers in all schools, including parents homeschooling children, know that they will face these tests. This eliminates grade inflation in earlier years and in mid-year evaluation: grades that not truly represent the student’s potential will undoubtedly be found out ultimately. Just about any country has them except Canada: even america has the SAT to greatly help post-secondary institutions compare students’ capabilities regardless of the school they attended.

The arguments against such exams are many. Students face a great deal of pressure, and their future is determined by their performance in a series of three hour written exams. Such exams favour visual learners and can close the entranceway for able students whose abilities will vary. There are concerns about “teaching to the test”, limiting teachers’ abilities to explore topics and problem-solving techniques. Proponents explain that at some stage you will have such an evaluation to graduate from university or to gain a professional qualification, and delaying it serves no purpose. Further, they indicate the evils of grade inflation which includes obviously run rampant in Ontario since such exams were abandoned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *