OCUFA report proves ON “no-fail” policy misguided

There is now research proof that the Ontario McGuinty government’s “Success” or “no-fail” policy to do whatever is necessary to increase high school graduation rates — even if it means students don’t actually complete their work — really is misguided.

For example, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA)  wrote in an April 6, 2009 report  (H/T Ann) regarding an online poll they conducted between February 16 and March 13, 2009 that:

“The McGuinty Government is applauding itself for increased graduation rates from secondary school. However, it appears that secondary students are not receiving the requisite skills that they need to be successful in university studies.”

“[For example:] Respondents most often reported the following challenges among first-year students:

  • Lower level of maturity,
  • Lack of required writing, mathematical and critical thinking skills,
  • Poor research skills as evidenced by an over reliance on Internet tools like Wikipedia as external research sources,
  • Expectation of success without the requisite effort, and
  • Inability to learn independently.

The poll, which involved 2000 respondents — faculty and librarians — from twenty-two Ontario universities, while anecdotal, is significant. It is significant because we now know — no matter how much edu-babble we hear out of the Ministry of Education — that far too many Ontario high school graduates are lacking in the type of writing, mathematical, critical thinking and research skills they need to be successful in university.

Put another way, the informal poll findings show a direct link to the type of consequences we can expect when students are allowed to pass credits without having to do the requisite work or meet the requisite academic standards.

Suggesting, as well intentioned as the “Success” at all costs strategy may be, it is failing the very students government officials say they are trying to help. It is failing them because government and board policies have become too focused on graduation and drop out rates and not enough on academic standards and academic outcomes.