This article was originally published in September 2018.
You'd think that once you get accepted into a university, nobody really keeps track of you - apart from making sure you're keeping your GPA stable, paying your fees, and not getting into any trouble.
But, according to Global News, it seems that with the surfacing of a very extensive list, that's definitely not the case for some Ontario university students who graduated from a very specific set of high schools.
The list has everything to do with the level of mark inflation that happens in Ontario high schools. Surprisingly, the problem is a lot more concerning than you'd think. If you thought that high schools were pulling the wool over Canadian universities' eyes, you couldn't be more wrong.
As it turns out, there's an extensive list detailing every single high school that's been determined as one that highly inflates students' marks.
How was this discovered, you ask? Universities, such as the University of Waterloo, have been actively tracking their students to see which ones have a higher discrepancy between their high school marks and the ones they obtain in university.
The study that resulted in the list came about because universities such as Waterloo began to notice that students would come in with above-average marks, but would completely flunk out of their program or severely struggle.
The universities claim that they began to investigate the issue in order to help students find a better fit. Their findings would be applied to how they select their future students from certain high schools.
Over the course of 2016, 2017 and 2018, 74 high schools in Ontario, both private and public, could be found on Waterloo's secret list detailing schools from all over the province, including a top 28 of the worst offenders.
As a result, dozens of schools were found to have such inflated marks that when their students entered university, they saw upwards of a 27.5% drop from the marks they got in high school.
As you can see from the list above obtained by Global News, the University of Waterloo has been incredibly determined to monitor all of Ontario's schools, from those in the GTA and St. Catharines to Ancaster and even Niagara Falls. The ones pictured above are part of the top 28 worst offenders, with inflation rates between 19% and nearly 30%.
But, it's not just Ontario students that are being watched. It was noted that New Brunswick students also saw drops of up to 26%. As well, students from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh were described as having the largest gaps between their high school and university marks when it came to the subject of international students.
While the list is finally out now, it took a while for the University of Waterloo to give it up. Global News requested the list under Ontario's access-to-information laws, but Waterloo refused, claiming their right to privacy. While the list had already been previously known by some, it took over two years and a court ruling for it to finally go public this week.
The reason that this is a cause for concern isn't only the fact that high schools are dramatically inflating their marks, but that universities aren't addressing those high schools. Instead, they're secretly monitoring them. As a result, they're less likely to choose students from those high schools without providing students with an explanation. Ultimately, they aren't really giving high schools a chance to change their ways.
The University of Western Ontario, on the other hand, had a list similar to the University of Waterloo's, and actually did try to reach out to high schools. Western specifically contacted the schools about grade inflation problems using their data, as an attempt to solve the problem. Unfortunately, Western claims that high schools weren't nearly as enthusiastic about changing their ways as they had hoped.
While it's still unclear what the results of this list publication will be, since many high schools have now been called out for insane mark inflations, it's expected that change will be coming to those particular schools. Especially considering this is no longer a private conversation, like the one Western had with the high schools they contacted. Now, the issue has gone public.
With both the University of Waterloo and Western Ontario having similar lists, it can be presumed that most universities have some sort of list of their own. Meaning, if you have any siblings attending one of these particular high schools, you may want to encourage them to consider switching schools.
If you, yourself, are from any of those top 28 worst offender schools, you may want to work a little harder this semester to prove your future university wrong and fight their potential assumptions about you.
Source: Global News
*Update (May 9, 2019, 10:28 AM):
Overcoming this grade-inflation issue, according to The Conversation, begins primarily with Canadian universities imparting future teachers with the skills and knowledge they need to properly assess their own students' work.
According to The Conversation, research shows that teachers feel generally unequipped to evaluate students on a fair, reliable basis - especially new teachers. Making sure that they know how grade on a fair basis, in relation to provincial curriculum expectations, is key in resolving this grade-inflation problem.
Hopefully, the revelation of these "secret lists" exposing certain Ontario high schools is the discussion needed to change how the school system supports and educates its teachers on fair student assessment, and level the playing field for all across the board.
Source: The Conversation