The Star appears to have broken the story on Aug. 11.
From the CBC online:
"We're trying to bring more transparency to this," Wynne said, adding that only a small minority of schools are at risk of not meeting provincial standards.This has drawn some interesting reaction. The Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation is quoted in the original Star piece, with president Ken Coran pulling a suitable rabbling tongue-lashing of the situation.
The government is also studying how to define a school and distinguish schools from tutoring services through criteria such as classroom hours.
There are 315 private schools in Ontario that offer credits toward an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, and must have passed inspection by the Ministry of Education in order to do so. However, the inspection does not deal with health, equipment, safety practices, or staffing issues.
Never ones to miss an opportunity, the Society for Quality Education also e-mail-blasted a statement to its lists today, which read in part:
Now, ALL those private schools' grades will be tainted with the suspicion that they are inferior and not to be trusted. While some grade inflation may be happening, this certainly cannot be the case in every situation. Without concrete data, properly collected and studied, this makes the “P” stand for punitive.The SQE's concern may be on the money-- the approach is a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to weeding out the crappy private schools that offer credits for cash. A stronger inspection and followup system might serve as a better method of enforcement and a deterrent. As to the point on those victory lap students, I graduated in an OAC world, so I don't actually know what a transcript looks like when you take a credit a second time to improve your mark.
Why doesn’t the minister flag grades of kids who take public school summer courses or who hang around for the “victory lap” fifth year of high school in the same way? In both of those cases grades might be inflated, or so we’ve heard, anecdotally.
Colleges and universities are already suspicious of the province's "no fail" policies. The unpreparedness of secondary students has made remediation the norm at post-secondary institutions.
A better solution would be exit examinations for all high school students. The Scarlet P will not help.
Victory lappers aren't trying to cheat the system however, as I don't imagine most teachers upgrade their assessments for students taking a credit the second time around. Which means those returning students would actually have to do better, and earn higher marks as a result, not just show up (let's stay away from the credit-integrity discussion for a second to let me make that point).
The 'unpreparedness' statement, backed up by a few vocal post-secondary faculty, doesn't merit the generalization. Certainly, when education was far more local, in the day of OACs and when, from memory, there was a dropout pathway and a 'we're channelling you for university even if you'll never finish a degree at one' path, I was still stunned in my J-100 class to spend a whole lecture being reminded of basic English grammar.
The 'P' flag doesn't offend me in any way, however better investigation, inspection and enforcement would be the better solution.