Articles, Editorials, Law and Politics Corner, Politics

Grades: Earned or Bought?

By: Chris G. and Owen M.

Grade 12 is one of the most stressful school years, as students work on gaining their credentials for post-secondary programs. Many prestigious programs require averages upwards of 90%. Achieving such grades requires a lot of effort, right? Well, not for everyone. 

Most students toil many hours with their heads in their books to achieve these high grades. However, not all students take this path. For a fortunate few, the path to their post-secondary program of choice is much easier. 

  For fees ranging from $1000 to $3000, students can enroll in certain private schools to ace their Math and English classes. So how do post-secondary institutions differentiate these grades? The answer is they don’t. Credits earned from these private schools are valued equal to any course taken at Forest Hill. 

  “We take the approach of a grade is a grade,” says Wilfrid Laurier University registrar Ray Darling, who admits he’s heard of credit mills selling grades to prospective students. If you think this isn’t fair, you’re right. These costly private schools greatly distort the playing field and advantage students with a stronger socioeconomic status. 

There are currently 399 Ontario private schools licensed by the Ministry of Education to grant OSSD credits. These institutions must provide sufficient documentation and undergo an inspection every two years to demonstrate they follow provincial guidelines. However, people within the public school system allege many of these institutions are not teaching to ministry standards. 

These allegations are supported by the many instances of large mark increases when transitioning to certain private schools and anecdotal evidence. One student who wishes to remain unnamed reportedly finished Grade 11 Functions with 60%. They went on to take Grade 12 Advanced Functions at a commonly known private institution and finished the course with 97% in a couple of months. Another student said during tests, their private school teacher would say “if you have any questions, ask me, and I will direct you towards the answer”.

Private schools profit when students sign up for their courses, encouraging some schools to boost grades in order to get students to recommend their classes to others. This is an unethical business model that puts students who cannot afford these courses, or choose to take them in public school, at a serious disadvantage. 

“Given that post-secondary admissions are at stake, is this equitable?”

  Students with greater financial means have always had the advantage of greater access to academic support. However, in the past, these students still had to earn their marks by meeting the same standards as other students. Unfortunately, today more and more students are taking courses at private schools known for boosting grades. Given that post-secondary admissions are at stake, is this equitable? Are grades being earned, or bought?

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