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No ‘victory lap’ at this cost

It’s good to hear from local MPP Liz Sandals that the provincial government is taking a hard look at the issue of the so-called “victory lap” in high schools. There can be good reasons for not finishing high school in four years. But letting students go back for a fifth year, free of charge, so that they can repeat courses and try to get better marks is a luxury that deficit-plagued Ontario can no longer afford.
When students “go around again” in this way to improve their marks, Sandals says, it’s “of concern to school boards and taxpayers, and it’s of concern to post-secondary institutions, because they want to identify the people who can get a good mark when they do something once.”
Ending this practice, or making students who do it pay a fee that covers the cost to the public purse, seems to make a lot of sense.
So it’s welcome news that the government, which is getting set to deliver Ontario’s annual budget, is considering the “victory lap” recommendations from economist Don Drummond, who delivered his report on deficit reduction in Ontario last month.
There have been recent incidents locally of first-time Grade 12 students having to take a course online, because classes were full. Some of the blame for this has been directed at “victory lap” students.
It has been almost nine years since the province completed its phase-out of the OAC (Ontario Academic Credit) year – a fifth year of high school for students preparing for post-secondary school. Yet 14 per cent of the province’s Grade 12 students are still returning for a fifth year of secondary education, Drummond’s report says. And high school counsellors continue to advise many students to do just this – perhaps creating more work for teachers at a time of declining enrolment?
A lot of things in Ontario are going to have to change as we enter a period of deficit-cutting austerity, it seems. Drummond says the province should cap the funding of high school credits at 32 successful credits per student (30 are required to graduate) and allow school boards to charge a fee, set by the province, for each additional credit.
If Ontario is to wrestle its deficit down, the “victory lap” should be part of the paring-down process.

One Response to “No ‘victory lap’ at this cost”

  1. ChristopherGrimwood says:

    Re: No victory at this cost

    Dear Chris Clark:

    I read with interest your editorial about Ontario’s ability to fund education for students needing or wanting to attend a fifth year of high school. The editorial brought up some good points but I was disgusted to read the sentence, “high school counsellors continue to advise many students to do just this – perhaps creating more work for teachers at a time of declining enrolment?”

    This statement is offensive to the counsellors (and all educators) that spend many hours helping students to make choices that are in the best interest of the student and their plans for the future. It displays a complete lack of understanding about the work these counsellors do and the tough choices facing our high school students.

    If your editorial team has evidence that counsellors are attempting to create work for teachers by encouraging students to come back for a fifth year of high school, you should publish it. If no such evidence exists, you should offer a public apology for this ignorant and incorrect statement, and stick to issues that you have some knowledge of.

    The Guelph Tribune can do better than publishing such nonsense.

    Christopher Grimwood
    Guelph, Ontario

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