Volume 92, Issue 70

Tuesday, February 2, 1999


Editorial Board 1998-99

Standardizing politics

Editorial Cartoon

Standardizing politics

A new solution to Ontario's lagging education system has emerged and on the surface, it's a great idea. Dive in a couple feet and the effects of pollution set in.

The latest word out of the Ministry of Education and Training is the possibility of province-wide standardized tests for students finishing their Ontario Academic Credit year. The reasoning behind this type of measure is that a grade at one school is not necessarily equal to a grade at another.

In a perfect world this would be the ideal solution to the problem of less than adequate high school educations. However, education has never been a simple cut and dry matter and this, contrary to the proposed solution, is not a simple problem either.

Standardized tests pose all sorts of problems. Whether it be a student having a bad day or an element of cultural bias, testing would be more detrimental than good. The issue which needs to be looked at is the quality of some secondary institutions.

If students are getting 90 per cent at a school when they would be getting 80 per cent at another, one or both of those schools needs to be examined. Curriculum and marking difficulty should be similar enough from school to school within the province so this type of test doesn't need to take place. Furthermore, a student's secondary academic experience should not be influenced, for better or for worse, depending on where they live.

A quick, politically motivated announcement, will not fix anything and chances are the situation could worsen. The Ministry of Education and Training needs to take an in-depth look at each high school across the province to see where there are inconsistencies in the curriculum and grades of students. Unfortunately, this is a largely behind the scenes approach and for the most part would go unnoticed in the political popularity circle – but it is what needs to be done.

Granted it will be hard to equalize all schools across the province and some thrive on offering different types of classes but there is definitely too big of a grade gap as it stands now. Universities are almost taking a shot in the dark on students applying in terms of their grades because those numbers are becoming less and less significant.

A high school student who has worked extremely hard to become an honours student should not find themselves in the same category of grades as someone who has coasted through their OAC year on the ease of a secondary institution's curriculum.

Western and every other university in this province deserves a better indication of who the quality students are and who they aren't.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999