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Hi Ken,

Thanks so much for your work in the area of assessment. I am a coordinator of schools and learning in Prairie Spirit School Division in Saskatchewan. Interesting buzz on the radio these days around school divisions removing zeros and allowing kids to get away with plagiarism...you are being quoted (see below). ALso - articles in recent Globe and Mail around Ontario returning to allowing zeros - can you comment on a. whether that is actually the direction Ontario is moving? b. your thoughts/comments around that?

Similar approach overturned in Ont.
Officials in Ontario took a similar approach to student evaluations in 1999, but there has been a reversal this year. Many schoolteachers came to see the approach as unfair.

In effect, it penalizes students who do their own work on time and accurately, said Ken Coran, president and CEO of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation.

"So you've got some students who are adhering to timelines and they're meeting those and in fact they were penalized for the others that weren't doing their work on time," Coran said.

Helen Horsman, an assistant deputy minister of Saskatchewan's Education Ministry, said she couldn't say how many of the province's 27 other school divisions are taking the same approach towards plagiarism and tardiness.

"We don't know that kind of detail," she said.

Ken O'Connor, an expert in educational assessment, said he found it odd the province would unveil a standardized high school curriculum for 2010, yet not have a standardized way of evaluating students.

"If you don't know that an 83 per cent or an A means roughly the same thing in Regina and Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, then it really is, it seems to me, a pointless exercise," O'Connor said.



Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/saskatchewan/story/2010/09/26/sask-report-cards-no-docking-marks.html#ixzz10lmfgRlV

2010-09-27
lori jeschke
 

The
Grade
Doctor
says:

Thanks for letting me know about the 'buzz' in Saskatchewan. I think it is very misleading
to say that schools are "allowing kids to get away with plagiarism:' what they are or should
be "allowing" is appropriate behavioural consequences for the inappropriate behaviour and
appropriate assessment consequences that require the student to it again HONESTLY.

I think it also misleading to say that Ontario is allowing zeros; Growing Success says that
School Boards must develop appropriate approaches for dealing with low scores/grades.

Ken Coran's comment is absurd - students "who do their work on time" are not penalized.
The 'price of freedom is responsibility' and they are free while the students who have not
got the work done still have it hanging over their head. Also the students who behave
appropriately (get things in on time) will get higher 'grades' for learning skills, while those
who are late will get lower 'grades' for learning skills.

Generally in the area of penalties Ontario has not reversed its policies but provided
teachers and schools with a wide range of consequences, for example, for late work there
is a long list of possible approaches. Using mark penalties is the last one listed which
implies that it is only one of the possibilities. I would prefer it if they had not included
penalties in the list but the way it is listed does not suggest that teachers should
immediately use penalties as the main way to deal with late 'work.'

 

Roger Curtis's
Comment

2010-10-28

Ken,

It looks like Abraham Lincoln was right: the best way to remove a law from the books is to
strictly enforce it. That has sadly been the case when it came to employing your
suggestions here in Ontario; that is, the province has wisely abandoned the option of
denying teachers the sensical practice of late-mark penalties and zeros. And your
interpretation of the Growing Success document is not only inaccurate but you seem to
lack the courage to have contacted the Ministry to clarify this for yourself.

Your comment with respect to Ken Coran is typical of those who are removed from the
classroom. Indeed, at my school myself and other teachers have a long list of students
who will testify to the penalty that they experience when other kids hand in material at a
later date and, frequently, benefit from seeing what other students have done and have had
returned. This is in addition to the bonus associated with taking a longer period of time to
complete the assignment. Any one can do a 'better' job given enough time but time is a
worthy consideration. Would you like your attending surgeon need additional time to
learn, review, practice and more while your life is on the line.

Anyways, Ontario has seen the light and is truly turning the tide on the practices that you
have advocated.

I think it also misleading to say that Ontario is allowing zeros; Growing Success says that
School Boards must develop appropriate approaches for dealing with low scores/grades.

Ken Coran's comment is absurd - students "who do their work on time" are not penalized.
The 'price of freedom is responsibility' and they are free while the students who have not
got the work done still have it hanging over their head. Also the students who behave
appropriately (get things in on time) will get higher 'grades' for learning skills, while those
who are late will get lower 'grades' for learning skills.

Generally in the area of penalties Ontario has not reversed its policies but provided
teachers and schools with a wide range of consequences, for example, for late work there
is a long list of possible approaches. Using mark penalties is the last one listed which
implies that it is only one of the possibilities. I would prefer it if they had not included
penalties in the list but the way it is listed does not suggest that teachers should
immediately use penalties as the main way to deal with late 'work.'


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2010-10-28

"your interpretation of the Growing Success document is not only inaccurate but you seem
to lack the courage to have contacted the Ministry to clarify this for yourself."

I disagree with your contention that my interpretation of "Growing Success" is inaccurate. I
do not lack courage and I would appreciate it if you would refrain from personal attacks. In
future if you use ad hominem attacks I will not post your comments on the web site.

"Indeed, at my school myself and other teachers have a long list of students who will
testify to the penalty that they experience when other kids hand in material at a later date
and, frequently, benefit from seeing what other students have done and have had returned.
This is in addition to the bonus associated with taking a longer period of time to complete
the assignment."

I disagree with so many parts of the above statement that I am not even going to try to
respond.

"Any one can do a 'better' job given enough time"

Simply not true - you could give me unlimited time to do any woodwork project and the
product would still be terrible."

"but time is a worthy consideration."

For things where speed is a condition of performance, e.g., air traffic control, but little that
happens in school is like air traffic control.

"Would you like your attending surgeon need additional time to learn, review, practice and
more while your life is on the line."

Not to learn and practice - that is done on dead bodies, but certainly I would like her to
take extra time to review and consult if it helps her to ensure a better outcome.

"Anyways, Ontario has seen the light and is truly turning the tide on the practices that you
have advocated."

In my view an incorrect interpretation - penalties are the last strategy that should be used
for late work as they are listed last in a list of seventeen. The policy also requires school
districts to have a justifiable procedure for dealing with outlier scores.


Roger Curtis's
Comment

2011-03-17

Ken,

I don't believe the following was part of my note to you. If it could be removed please...

I think it also misleading to say that Ontario is allowing zeros; Growing Success says that
School Boards must develop appropriate approaches for dealing with low scores/grades.

Ken Coran's comment is absurd - students "who do their work on time" are not penalized.
The 'price of freedom is responsibility' and they are free while the students who have not
got the work done still have it hanging over their head. Also the students who behave
appropriately (get things in on time) will get higher 'grades' for learning skills, while those
who are late will get lower 'grades' for learning skills.

Generally in the area of penalties Ontario has not reversed its policies but provided
teachers and schools with a wide range of consequences, for example, for late work there
is a long list of possible approaches. Using mark penalties is the last one listed which
implies that it is only one of the possibilities. I would prefer it if they had not included
penalties in the list but the way it is listed does not suggest that teachers should
immediately use penalties as the main way to deal with late 'work.'

Sincerely,

Roger Curtis


The Grade Doctor's
Comment

2011-03-30

I am not sure why there is - or could be - any confusion but these are my words not Mr. Curtis's.

 

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