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Rectify the Unjust Results of Mount Pearl Senior High's English Midterm Exam

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Summary

In this year's English 3201 midterm exams at Mount Pearl Senior High, most of the class averages were in the 50 percentile range. Students who consistently receive high 90s in assessments in this course have experienced a significant drop in their averages after the exam. Despite the shockingly low grades received, students were not allowed to keep their exams to review, nor were students even allowed to defend or argue their answers to the teachers responsible for grading their exams. This is strictly against the policies of the Eastern School District on many levels. 

Denied the Right to Communicate our Concerns

Students have been denied the ability to communicate with the teachers responsible for correcting their exams. The exams were split into different sections with each English teacher responsible for grading a specific section. The only teacher allowed to adjust the grade on a specific section is the teacher responsible for grading that respective section. However, we have been denied the ability to speak directly to any English teacher other than our own about our exam grades. We are only allowed to express our concerns to our own English teacher who will then relay our grievance to the teacher responsible for grading the section in question, however this is without the presence of the student involved. Therefore, we are unable to defend our own answers to express why we believe we should have received a higher mark for the question at hand.

The refusal of English teachers to speak directly to students was constructed at the release of Midterm exam grades, and therefore suppresses student attempts to argue for better marks. The refusal of English teachers to speak to students is against the policies of Newfoundland and Labrador English School District:

"The Board will ensure a planned approach to student assessment, evaluation and
reporting that is based on the provincial and other approved curriculum outcomes and reflects the following:... A fair, equitable, transparent and ongoing process that includes clear communication with students and parents/guardians at the beginning of the school year, and at other appropriate times throughout the school year." Source: NLESD

Unfair Differences between Schools

Other schools also do not have the same strict marking schemes or standards. i.e., if a student properly supports an answer, they will receive the marks for it (as is intended in the public exam rubric). Some schools in our district do not even have midterm exams this year.

Our grades are suffering simply because the marking standards of MPSH are more strict and limited than the rest of the English School District, and that is unacceptable. Teachers may argue that though grading makes better students. However, for a public course, all marking standards should be relatively the same.

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District clearly states that the extreme differences in grading standards between schools is against their policies:

"Schools will have the authority to develop their own implementation schedule based upon what is best for their school community. While this may result in some differences in approach between schools, we do not expect these differences to be significant and schools must adhere to the policy." Source: NLESD

These midterm marks are crucial for our post-secondary applications and scholarships, and the decisions made with the grading system are severely damaging our future prospects. This is especially true when our grades are compared to students from other schools in the district.

Second Chance Opportunities

The students who have written the exam have not been given any sort of way to improve or make up for the grades they received, despite the unusually low marks.

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District clearly states in their Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting policy that students should be given the opportunity to make up for low grades if the situation deems necessary:

"We believe in our students and in giving them every opportunity to succeed. Schools will develop guidelines for second chance opportunities. Teachers in turn will exercise their professional judgement to determine if second chance opportunities are required, the parameters around students availing of second chances, and the types of assessment used when second chance opportunities are provided." Source: NLESD

With class averages in the 50 percentile range, a second chance opportunity should be required.

Issues with the Marking Scheme

The marking scheme is not meant to be black and white. The public exam rubric states possible themes/tone/mood to help scorers with grading. However, if any given theme/tone/mood is supported properly then students should be given the proper marks for it. The same is true for other parts of marking rubrics.

Individual marks for the analytical essay should be looked at more carefully. If a single organization mistake is present, 4/10 on organization is not a reasonable deduction.

Despite some teachers agreeing that certain answers were in fact correct (or had more than one correct answer), a change of grade to reflect this was refused.

Clearly, marking standards on this exam are different than they have been on tests throughout the year. Students who receive high 90s in all tests have received 50%-60% on nearly ever part of the exam. It is not certain if students were simply not given the vital information for the exam, or if grading standards themselves were different. However, in either case the responsibility lies in the teachers to ensure that students are not set up for failure.

Help Us in Our Mission to Receive Fair Grading

Our school has a lot of incredibly bright students who have the drive and skill to go far and achieve great success with their post-secondary educations. Unusually low grades such as these make our students seem less capable than students from other schools, hindering out ability to reach our full potential in post-secondary school opportunities.

In creating this petition, we hope to find a reasonable solution to make up for the abnormally low grades received on these midterm exams. Some possible outcomes may include but are not limited to:

  • Drop the midterm exam grades completely.
  • Curving the midterm grades. (Examples of types of grade curving that can benefit all students - Source)
  • Allow supplementary school work to replace the weight of the exam.

The results of this exam and the lack of effort to rectify this situation shows us students that the teachers are not trying to help us succeed, and do not value the detrimental importance that these grades have on our futures.

"We do believe in our students and in giving them every opportunity to succeed and as such, a teacher's professional judgement can be used to take actions within the best interest of the student." Source: NLESD



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