Questions about Freezing Marks for Secondary Students

Questions about Freezing Marks for Secondary Students
Posted on 01/25/2022
Questions about Freezing Marks for Secondary Students

OCDSB student leaders recently put together a proposal to freeze secondary student marks effective December 17th (final marks could go up, but not down, from that date). This proposal was similar to action recently taken in other districts. 

We recognize the important advocacy of these student leaders, and held a meeting with them to discuss this in more detail. We wanted to let them know that in our planning for this year, we recognized that secondary students would continue to face challenges as a result of the pandemic, both academically and from a well-being perspective. We planned for the possibility that students would face unexpected interruptions, such as the recent shift to remote learning, and adjusted our instructional and assessment structures to be flexible and responsive. 

In order to provide the greatest support for students, we took advantage of some additional flexibility provided by the Ministry of Education and made the following key decisions: 

  • there would be no examination days in the 2021-2022 school year, and 
  • there would be no final evaluations. Rather than the term mark accounting for 70% and students engaging in final evaluations weighted up to 30%, final marks would be based on 100% term learning with no final evaluations. 
  • Additionally, for students taking part in Grade 9 EQAO math assessments in the 2021-2022 school year, it was determined that the results cannot contribute to the final course grade. 

In addition, we have added a Student Success day on February 2, 2022. This day will provide students additional time to submit or catch up on assignments, have additional opportunities to demonstrate their learning and provide teachers with time to connect and follow up with students requiring additional assistance.

From the outset, we set the conditions to support student learning and achievement. The student leaders raised a number of questions and great examples about the practical application of this approach. The following reflect the concerns raised and our responses.

Q1: A student is in grade 12 and had a 90%. They did very badly on a test during remote learning. They are very worried it will impact their application to university. 

Response: The averaging of test scores to determine a final grade is not aligned with Growing Success, the provincial policy on assessment and evaluation. The teacher would use the most consistent evidence of student learning. Further, the student is encouraged to reach out to their teacher to get support in any content they didn't understand on the test and seek another opportunity to demonstrate their learning. 

Q2: Some students may not have been able to engage in the recent move to remote learning (for example, they were needed to support younger siblings in their schooling and serve as the caregiver) or may be required to remain at home due to isolation requirements etc. What will happen to these students? They are worried their marks will be negatively impacted. 

Response: Whether during the 9-day remote learning period, required isolation periods, or prior to the pandemic, a student who does not attend school for 9 days would not receive zeros. This practice would not be consistent with Growing Success. Our educators would reach out to the student. When the student returns to school, the teacher would work to determine the areas of greatest focus for their learning and help the student in those areas. The period of remote learning in this example would not adversely impact the student’s overall achievement level. 

Q3: I am in grade 12 and it seems like our teacher is doing a 30% final evaluation. What do I do?  

Response: Reach out to your teacher and seek clarification to ensure the mark is based on 100% term. It is possible the task may be one to help you connect prior learning in earlier units to other content and make connections, etc.  

Q4: What if there is a big overall change or drop in my achievement and marks? It was very stressful during the remote learning period and we are struggling adjusting to returning to in person learning? I’m worried about the impact on my marks. 

Response: Growing Success is very clear that a student’s final mark should reflect the student’s most consistent level of achievement and performance. As always, if there is a significant change in a student’s academic performance, the teacher would work individually with the student and would adjust marks on an individual basis given specific circumstances.  

Q5: How else do we know our progress? 

Response: OCDSB students are unique in having access to Student Evidence Records to see their ongoing progress and achievement levels on assessments throughout their course. Please reach out to your teacher if you have any questions regarding your Student Evidence Record. Most OCDSB teachers use MarksManager (MaMa) as the online electronic evidence record. 

Q6: What do we do if we have additional concerns re assessment and evaluation after we speak to our teacher?

Response: If after reaching out to your teacher, you still have concerns re assessment and evaluation in a given class, you would reach out to your vice-principals or principal. 

Q7: Will you be changing your assessment and evaluation policy? 

Response: We feel very confident in the many highly supportive structures put in place in the OCDSB in support of the learning, well-being and achievement of secondary students. These practices and decisions were proactive and innovative in support of creating the greatest flexibility for student learning and outcomes. All of these structures and policies are aligned to Growing Success and the guidance and direction provided by the Ministry of Education.

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