I still remember the orientation to my school right out of the Faculty. We were given a tour of the school and, like in any fair-sized secondary school, were kind of lost and turned around. There were just the three of us and the vice-principal. Of course, he told us that we could ask questions but I remember being so overwhelmed that I didn’t. I just hoped that there would come a time when we’d be able to recognize where we were. The school seemed so huge!

We did eventually end up back in his office and we were sitting there chatting politely and then he made an interesting comment about reporting that sticks with me to this day. “You don’t give final marks or credits to students; the school does through the principal”. Knowing what I know about things now, I would have loved to dig into that. But, I hadn’t received my first paycheque yet much less given my first test.

Of course, we did various assessments and assigned grades throughout the year. Sometimes, they were numbers between 0 and 100; sometimes they were letters from A-F; sometimes they were PASS/FAIL. A copy of everything had to be nicely packaged in a binder in case someone wanted to see something – I don’t recall anyone but me going into mine – and at the end of the course, we had to submit the binders to our department head, along with our final marks, who checked them over and returned them. At that point, we could then put them on “mark entry sheets” to go to the office. I found out later that they went through another bit of scrutiny via the Guidance Department, Principal, and then entered into the computer by the head secretary. There would occasionally be bones of contention from teaching staff if a mark was changed by the office. Again, I don’t recall any of my marks being changed.

Later as a department director, I was in the middle of the process. I really didn’t have any expertise in making sense of someone else’s marks. You’d like to think that colleagues were professional and were reporting the best that they could. We did have a rule about not giving 48, 49, or 50 because they were so easy to question. The philosophy, I guess, was “fail them good” or “pass them by the skin of their teeth”. 47 and 51 where magic numbers.

We had professional development sessions periodically by subject and it was awesome to get together with other computer science teachers. None of us had textbooks and so we were doing out best to meet the requirements set by the Ministry, although none of us were doing the same thing. I had a bit of an advantage since I had four years of university studies in computer science; others had advantages because they had experience teaching the subject. I’d be lying if I said that assessment, evaluation, and reporting was consistent across all schools.

I read this longish article this morning.

An explosion in A+ students: Grades are rising at GTA high schools — here’s what it means for your kids

It speaks volumes about the challenges in education. As long as the students are in your school for four years, things would be relatively consistent, I supposed. It’s when they change schools.

The chit-chat about our incoming Grade 9 students was that there would be a noticeable difference from one “feeder” school to another. I never experienced it first hand since the only Grade 9 class that I taught was Business and there was very little to carry forward from Grade 8 to Grade 9. I’m told that in Mathematics and English, it was really noticeable.

When the students graduate from secondary school, there are a number of different pathways they can take. For those moving academically to university or college, there’s another big shakeup. I remember talking to a professor once and he said that he had given up looking at entry grades and the ranking of secondary schools and he just treated students all equally as if they were at the lower end of things. They’d move on from there.

Before any of this happens though, they have to get into university and that’s where those marks come in to play. It isn’t too hard a reach to see why a school would make changes to marks – the article calls it “grade inflation” – to help students get accepted and to maintain the reputation of the school.

Photo by Vasily Koloda on Unsplash

Over the years, we’ve got better at assessment and evaluation. The move to leveling makes so much consistency and not splitting hairs about the difference between a 74 and a 75. Teachers today are much more comfortable talking about assessment and evaluation than I ever was.

Post secondary relies on reporting as one of their criteria for acceptance.

illustrates the immense pressure in the race up the grade scale, one in which Grade 12 averages are on a steady slope upwards and the number of kids entering university with a 95+ average has exploded, according to data collected by the Star.

There would have been a time when I would be very passionate about the content of The Star’s story. Now, I can understand. We know that kids are under pressure from parents to get ahead in life. That pressure is easily directed at schools as well.

I’d be hard pressed to come up with a solution. I know that there was a time when departmental exams were the thing with everyone in the province writing them. I know that we have implemented EQAO testing in some areas so try to level the playing field. We’ve abandoned the departmental exams and we question the value of EQAO testing so we appear to not have that right yet.

But that doesn’t solve the university situation. It costs a lot of money to attend and live, should you get accepted. It doesn’t seem to me to be fair that over-inflating marks helps the cause at all.

Do you have a solution?


OTR Links 10/31/2022

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

My Week Ending 2022-10-30

Here’s a summary of some of the things I learned and published this week.


You can follow my daily readings as they happen here.  Below are a selected few, with commentary, from the past week. They’re posted to the blog daily under the title OTR Links.


  • This is scary to think that an explosive might be found at Billy Bishop Airport
  • Better feedback can lead to better things – it needs to be repeated over and over


  • I still don’t get the popularity of TikTok but I guess I’m not as much a scroller than some folks are – but algorithm caught my eye
  • There’s lots of speculation today about the future of Twitter – read my post yesterday where I can speculate with the best of them – here’s a piece that predicts the end of it


  • I couldn’t agree more with this opinion piece about buying off Ontario parents
  • Devils’ night was not Detroit’s biggest selling point


  • I’m not sure it’s enough to ever make me consider buying an iPhone but if you own one and enjoy pinball, Apple’s got you covered
  • This is incredible news for Mamo Burger in the city of Windsor


  • Things like this just befuddle me. Who would go to a third-party site to get a Windows update? It’s never a good idea
  • This is what Twitter won’t become according to Musk


  • Google confirms a 0 day attack which means that all of us need to upgrade immediately
  • It’s stories like this that make me wonder if I ever want to go south of the border again. Of course, we’re not squeaky clean either


  • I found this to be an interesting read because Canva seems to have elevated itself to be the goto product for many but maybe there’s a challenger?
  • The word is increasing that we may get mask mandates back in the province. Gulp!

Blog Posts on
doug — off the record

My daily contributions to this blog are linked below. If you’re looking for a week in review for doug–off the record, you came to the right place.

#FollowFriday – October 28, 2022

voicEd Radio

This Week in Ontario Edublogs is a blog post/show/podcast that features great writing from Ontario Edubloggers. Stephen Hurley and I use their writing as the basis for a conversation.

Featured Bloggers:

  • Charles Pascal – @CEPascal
  • Laura Elliott – @lauraelliottPhD 
  • Nilmini Ratwatte-Henstridge @NRatwatte
  • Marc Hodgkinson – @Mr_H_Teacher 
  • David Garlick – @garlickd13
  • Melanie White – @WhiteRoomRadio
  • Arianna Lambert – @MsALambert

This week’s voicEd Radio show:

A playlist of the songs of Peace that we open and close the show with.

Technology Troubleshooting

Last week, I talked about the problems that my wife had getting her Chromebook on the network at a particular hotel in Goderich. Well, we went to Goderich for a more pleasant visit and I took my Chromebook.

Guess what?

I had problems too.

I blogged about it earlier this week here.

It I was alone, I would have tried a few other things but we were there to enjoy a night away. The only real damage was missing a day for a blog post. I still can’t believe that that Tim Horton’s was closed. That would have been the easiest solution – of course I could have hopped in the car and gone to another one.

Video of the Week

This was an annual tradition around our house. We’d watch it every year and were engaged just as much as we were the first time we saw it.

Photo of the Week

The sun sets nicely in Amherstburg behind Boblo Island.

Thanks for reading.

Please join me daily for something new and, hopefully, interesting for you. I honestly and truthfully appreciate your few moments reading my thoughts. Time willing, this summary appears every Sunday afternoon.

Be safe.


This blog post was originally posted at:

Whatever happened to …

… pillowcases?

How about something Hallowe’en themed for today since the big day is tomorrow? I happened to notice this bag on the counter at our place.

I had to smile since we live out in the country with no neighbours with little kids. Every Hallowe’en, we do make a road trip to our grandkids to give them a bag of treats. It’s great to hear what they’re “going to be” and see the great looking costumes that they’re going to wear. Going along with the great costumes are fancy things to collect goodies while they’re out. The plastic pumpkin seems to be popular.

Not back in the day…

Mom would look through the linen closet and my brother and I would get two of the oldest pillowcases for the collection purpose. They came with a warning to not drag them on the ground. We’d then go out and do our best to fill them up. Typically, we’d get it about quarter-filled until we either got cold and wet or anxious to go home and dig in.

There was lots of planning going into outfits; the worst costume I can remember was an Alfred E. Newman plastic pullover thing. It was so awkward. (and hot)

But, before we’d dig in, the pillowcases were dumped one at a time onto the kitchen table so that Dad could inspect things. We lived in a time and era where everyone was afraid of a razor blade stuck in an apple.

We did the pillowcase thing until we got to high school when trick-or-treating kind of faded away. As I reflect now, we had a good community. We certainly did have a bar of soap in case someone wanted a trick rather than a treat but I don’t recall ever having to use it. Porch lights turned off were an indication that the house either didn’t play Hallowe’en or they had run out of treats. Living in a small town, we “knew” where to go to get the best treats. Our trip was strategically planned to go by those houses. Raglan Street, if you know Clinton at all.

For the longest time, Dad would go with us and Mom would stay at home to hand out our goodies.

Hallowe’en returned during my university years. Only instead of collecting candy in a pillow case, we’d go door to door with an empty beer mug.

For this special Hallowe’en, Whatever happened to, what are your memories?

  • Did you use pillow cases to collect your goodies?
  • What was your best Hallowe’en outfit? Your worst?
  • Was your place one of the ones that kids would seek out?
  • Did you have a special place in town where you knew you’d get the good stuff?
  • What was your favourite? For me, it was any place that gave out full-sized chocolate bars
  • Do you give out goodies in pre-made bags or do you have a big bowl where kids could reach in and grab a handful?
  • What was your trick to play if you did?
  • How did you know when Hallowe’en was over?
  • What things should parents be careful of their children getting as treats these days?

As always, I’d love to read your thoughts. Please do so in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning post. You can read them all here.

If you enjoyed the post, please share the love on social media or with friends. If you didn’t, please let me know.

OTR Links 10/30/2022

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.