Grade market unethical

An article published in the Toronto Star on Sunday Sept.18, “Student questions marks from a high school ‘credit mill’ ” examined accredited private high schools that dole out high marks in exchange for payment.

The example institution, TCT High School, was accused of rewarding students with high marks and credits for work that failed to meet provincial standards.

The practice is unethical and brings to light a variety of problems with the education system and university entrance requirements.

Classes at the school cost

between $500 and $700 each. According to the article, attendance isn’t enforced and instructors leave students unattended during examinations. In these respects, TCT High School represents many private schools.

Selling grades contributes to grade inflation and impacts the make-up of the university applicant pool.

If some students pay for marks, teachers at other schools will raise grades to ensure they remain competitive. Universities in turn raise their entrance requirements to narrow the potential pool of students, further perpetuating the cycle.

Not only does grade inflation hurt the education system but it also negatively impacts students themselves.

It encourages a lax work ethic and sense of entitlement that results in students who are unprepared for the rigors of academic study. Though it may get them ahead in the short-term, ultimately, students are shortchanged.

A deficit in study skills may lead to failure in university, but this doesn’t always happen. Some who cheat their way into university receive their degrees. With the lack of standardization of grading, marks are an insufficient measure of a student’s ability to succeed in university. They fail to take into account extracurricular experiences that may help students in their education.

Transcripts should be corroborated with essays or a Personal Statement of Experience (PSE), a Queen’s requirement. The PSE gives a multi-faceted picture of a student and is a better indicator of their aptitude.

A greater amount of standardized testing in high school would start to improve the grade discrepancies. Holding students across the province to the same requirements would make for a more even field when applying to university.

Ideally an amalgam of marks, extracurricular activities and standardized testing would be used to judge a student’s aptitude. Grades alone fail to represent ability, especially when they’re ill-gotten.

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