Please Learn the System

Every student in Ontario has a student record that follows them from school to school and grade to grade.

In order for things to be consistent, we have a standard way of marking and a standard report card that all schools use.

At least, that is what is supposed to happen. But I have found that many teachers either do not know how to use the Provincial Leveling System or just don’t want to use it.

This puts me in quite the spot. You see, I believe in the provincial marking system. I think it is important to have a standard way of marking. The Ministry of Education has quite a few documents to show exactly how this works. I use their resources all the time when I mark. This way I can defend any mark that I give. I can explain why the student received the mark they did and I can back it up.

What’s the problem you ask?

Well, marking used to be done on a curve. Students who performed the “best” in the class often got A’s. They were used as an example for all the other students to live up to. But this system was flawed as the marks were often subjective and varied from school to school and district to district.

With the new system (that has been around for over ten years) subjective marking should be a thing of the past. A’s are rare and shouldn’t be so widely given out. An A means that a student has exceeded the curriculum expectations.

My problem?

I checked the student files and noted that many of my students have gotten A’s peppered throughout their report cards. I even met a parent before the first day of school and she told me that her kids were A students. The problem, they aren’t. In fact, some of them are C students according to the levelling system.

So now what?

I know these students are going to be crushed when they see their report cards next month. I know that parents will be upset with me. But it’s not my fault. I’m doing my job and I’m being honest with my marks. That is what these kids need. Otherwise by the time they get to high school, they won’t be prepared for it.

I think elementary school teachers need to wake up and use this great system that we have in place. And then maybe I wouldn’t have to go through this every year.

14 responses to “Please Learn the System”

  1. Hi Silverfish,

    That’s exactly what I try to teach my class on a daily basis. I have a banner in the classroom that reads “Don’t do what’s easy. . . Do what’s right.”

    So yeah, it might be tough but I know what I need to do.

  2. Chase,
    As a secondary school teacher in the U.S. I read your post with much interest. NOTHING terrifies a student more than the concept of a “Permanent Record.” It is like a “Police Report” for them, where they get pigeon-holed for their entire academic careers, and begin to perform to the “lowest common denominator” of their records.

    In the U.S., such things are nothing more than labeling…and they are far more frequently harmful than hopeful.


  3. Hi Rita,

    I totally understand that, and I feel really bad about having to give kids less than stellar marks. It really bothers me.

    If a kid tries his or her best and shows improvement that should be good enough. That’s what school should be about. But it’s not.

    So we need to have marks that mean something. We have a system here because of that, but people are ignoring it because they fear the permanent record.

    Of course, the record really isn’t important. High school marks matter when getting into college. Elementary school grades don’t really amount to much at that time.

    And once you are searching for a job no one ever looks at your marks in Grade 4. So, maybe it’s not such a big deal.

  4. In a word,you did the right thing.The eduation usually giving students “A” can be called “encouraged education”.However,at present, we must pay more attention on “frustrated education”.That’s better for students.Do you think so?

  5. Hi C.O.F.,

    It would be frustrating for any student to move from getting A’s to not getting them.

    But we can educate students and parents. There are documents readily available to help.

    Once students and parents know that a B is a good mark and what we are looking for, perhaps the frustration will disappear.

  6. oh man, i can see it now. angry parents chasing you down the hall. you’re right though…not your fault..the truth will do them more good in the long run than their pride will today

  7. Hi Natural,

    I know some parents are going to blame me. I know it.

    So I sent home a newsletter explaining the system yesterday.

    I also send home marked work every week that I have levelled.

    So, hopefully it won’t be such a shock. And at the very least, I can say that I sent this stuff home so they should’ve known.

  8. Hi Chase,
    Maybe what you said is very useful to educate Canadian students but not Chinese students.Now Chinese teachers are learning Weastern educational methods, “encouraged education”.They learn the essence or just the superficial?
    We can discuss it. And welcome to
    Construction of Faculty!

  9. Goodafternoon Chase:
    You know the “encouraged education”
    may lead to cheating students. For example, one plus one are two and everybody knows it’s a fact. But sometimes our taechers would tell students that one plus one are not two when students did so.And they just want to encourage students. will the same thing also appear in Canada?

  10. Hi C.O.F.

    I think it is important for all educators to realize that there is often more than one right answer for a question. Some answers are better than others.

    That’s why we have this levelling system here. I am a fan of it. I think it works, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for Chinese students as well.

    As for cheating, that will always be a temptation for some students no matter what system is used in the schools. I think social skill and character training is the solution for that. I try to model this in my class every day.

  11. Hi Chase:
    Thanks for your comments. Of course,one plus one are not two sometimes. But we will never tell our students the thing untill they get further studying. If you just tell pupils in Grade One that one plus one are not two, maybe they will ask you :”Are one Quarter adding one Quarter not two Quarters?” So what do you want to answer them?
    Now Chinese people pay much attention on American financial crisis. And what caused this American financial crisis?
    American government encouraged American people to furnish credit on an unsecured basis. It seemed to bring about American economic prosperity because of promoting consumption.But it is the mock boom which not only cheated Americans but also the whole world. And now people all around the world have to swallow the bitter fruit of the mock boom which is caused by cheating.

  12. Hi C.O.F.

    This finincial crisis seems to be world-wide. I must admit that I don’t truly understand it. Although, I also don’t know how to survive day to day without credit.

    I think too many loans were given out that shouldn’t have been. Perhaps this was “cheating” on the banks part as you suggest.

    As for teaching. I always teach to a sense of purpose so that my students know why it is important to learn and study the things we do.

    I try not just to tell them things but let them discover them, practice them, and really learn.

  13. Hi Chase:
    I am glad to see your comments. I think we have something in common this time.As you refered,we must let our students discover things, practice them, and really learn. In fact,for one question, there are more than one right answer sometimes. But no matter there are how many answers, the most important thing is that we must let our students know the fact.And the fact is only.
    As long as ” encouraged education” is mentiond, sometimes it can lead to “cheating”. Teachers encourage students to success. They will say “Yes” for some false answers. At the time, we do say “no” to these false answers. And you know this is not a bad thing.Sometimes “frustrated education” works.
    I quite agree with your “teach to a sense of purpose”.I am interested in how you explain this America finincial crisis to your students?
    I am glad to hear from you soon.