January 21, 2022 - Questions about Freezing Marks for Secondary Students, Upcoming Events, and more.

January 21, 2022 - Questions about Freezing Marks for Secondary Students, Upcoming Events, and more.
Posted on 01/21/2022

Dear OCDSB Students, 

Though we experienced a number of delays and challenges this week, we were glad to see many of you back in school this week. Thank you for your patience and flexibility throughout the many changes.

Questions about Freezing Marks for Secondary Students 

OCDSB student leaders recently put together a proposal to freeze secondary student marks effective December 17th (final marks could go up, but not down, from that date). This proposal was similar to action recently taken in other districts. We recognize the important advocacy of these student leaders, and held a meeting with them this week to discuss this in more detail. We wanted to let them know that in our planning for this year, we recognized that secondary students would continue to face challenges as a result of the pandemic, both academically and from a well-being perspective. We planned for the possibility that students would face unexpected interruptions, such as the recent shift to remote learning, and adjusted our instructional and assessment structures to be flexible and responsive. 

In order to provide the greatest support for students, we took advantage of some additional flexibility provided by the Ministry of Education and made the following key decisions: 

  • there would be no examination days in the 2021-2022 school year, and 
  • there would be no final evaluations. Rather than the term mark accounting for 70% and students engaging in final evaluations weighted up to 30%, final marks would be based on 100% term learning with no final evaluations. 
  • Additionally, for students taking part in Grade 9 EQAO math assessments in the 2021-2022 school year, it was determined that the results cannot contribute to the final course grade. 

In addition, we have added a Student Success day on February 2, 2022. This day will provide students additional time to submit or catch up on assignments, have additional opportunities to demonstrate their learning and provide teachers with time to connect and follow up with students requiring additional assistance.

From the outset, we set the conditions to support student learning and achievement. The student leaders raised a number of questions and great examples about the practical application of this approach. The following reflect the concerns raised and our responses. 

Q1: A student is in grade 12 and had a 90%. They did very badly on a test during remote learning. They are very worried it will impact their application to university. 

Response: The averaging of test scores to determine a final grade is not aligned with Growing Success, the provincial policy on assessment and evaluation. The teacher would use the most consistent evidence of student learning. Further, the student is encouraged to reach out to their teacher to get support in any content they didn't understand on the test and seek another opportunity to demonstrate their learning. 

Q2: Some students may not have been able to engage in the recent move to remote learning (for example, they were needed to support younger siblings in their schooling and serve as the caregiver) or may be required to remain at home due to isolation requirements etc. What will happen to these students? They are worried their marks will be negatively impacted. 

Response: Whether during the 9-day remote learning period, required isolation periods, or prior to the pandemic, a student who does not attend school for 9 days would not receive zeros. This practice would not be consistent with Growing Success. Our educators would reach out to the student. When the student returns to school, the teacher would work to determine the areas of greatest focus for their learning and help the student in those areas. The period of remote learning in this example would not adversely impact the student’s overall achievement level. 

Q3: I am in grade 12 and it seems like our teacher is doing a 30% final evaluation. What do I do?  

Response: Reach out to your teacher and seek clarification to ensure the mark is based on 100% term. It is possible the task may be one to help you connect prior learning in earlier units to other content and make connections, etc.  

Q4: What if there is a big overall change or drop in my achievement and marks? It was very stressful during the remote learning period and we are struggling adjusting to returning to in person learning? I’m worried about the impact on my marks. 

Response: Growing Success is very clear that a student’s final mark should reflect the student’s most consistent level of achievement and performance. As always, if there is a significant change in a student’s academic performance, the teacher would work individually with the student and would adjust marks on an individual basis given specific circumstances.  

Q5: How else do we know our progress? 

Response: OCDSB students are unique in having access to Student Evidence Records to see their ongoing progress and achievement levels on assessments throughout their course. Please reach out to your teacher if you have any questions regarding your Student Evidence Record. Most OCDSB teachers use MarksManager (MaMa) as the online electronic evidence record. 

Q6: What do we do if we have additional concerns re assessment and evaluation after we speak to our teacher?

Response: If after reaching out to your teacher, you still have concerns re assessment and evaluation in a given class, you would reach out to your vice-principals or principal. 

Q7: Will you be changing your assessment and evaluation policy? 

Response: We feel very confident in the many highly supportive structures put in place in the OCDSB in support of the learning, well-being and achievement of secondary students. These practices and decisions were proactive and innovative in support of creating the greatest flexibility for student learning and outcomes. All of these structures and policies are aligned to Growing Success and the guidance and direction provided by the Ministry of Education. 

OCDSB Graduate Receives Ontario Lincoln M. Alexander Award

We are excited to share that OCDSB graduate Dina Efrem was one of three recipients of this year’s Lincoln M. Alexander Award. This award is given annually to students and community leaders who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in working to eliminate racial discrimination. Dina is a graduate of Nepean High School, where she was co-president of her school’s Diverse Student Union and hosted numerous discussions both at school and in the community on race, equity, and social justice. Learn more about Dina’s work and accomplishments and the Lincoln M. Alexander Award on our website

Upcoming Events

Student-led Discussion on Black Excellence

Looking ahead to Black History Month, the OCDSB will be hosting a student-led discussion on Black Excellence on Thursday, February 10, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. The event will feature current and former OCDSB students who will explore topics, such as what it takes to consciously and unconsciously achieve excellence as Black youth.

The discussion will be streamed via YouTube. If you wish to submit a question for the panel in advance, you can do so via this Google Form. For panel bios or to watch previous sessions of the Black Excellence series, visit our webpage.

2SLGBTQ+ Interfaith Panel Discussion

We invite students, staff and families for a 2SLGBTQ+ Interfaith Panel Discussion webinar on Thursday, February 10, 2022, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This information session will help you know more about gender, sexuality and faith.  

Participants will hear from Kusha Dadui, OCDSB Trans and Gender Diverse Student Support Coordinator, and a panel including El-Farouk Khaki - queer Imam and co-founder of Salaam Canada, Caro Ibrahim - BIPOC Christain faith-based counsellor and Orev Katz - 2SLGBTQ+ non-binary rabbi who has done a lot of work with incarcerated people.

Register Now 

Upcoming Dates of Significance

There are a number of dates of significance to learn about for the remainder of January, including International Day for Education on January 24th and Bell Let’s Talk Day on January 26th. January 27th is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, where we honour and remember the over six million Jews murdered and the countless other victims of the Holocaust. Learning the lessons from our past is essential to shaping a more inclusive future, free of antisemitism and hate. January 29th marks the 5th anniversary of the Quebec Mosque shooting. The OCDSB remembers the victims and their families and stands with the Muslim community against Islamophobia and all forms of hatred. 

Please remember to follow us on social media and visit our website for additional resources and to learn more about the various dates of significance we recognize throughout the year.

COVID-19 Updates and Public Health Information 

Voluntary COVID-19 Disclosure and School Absence Reporting

In response to requests for continued reporting of information on suspected COVID-19 cases at school, the OCDSB is creating a voluntary COVID-19 reporting process. Parents, students and staff will be able to share information through a new Voluntary COVID-19 reporting form, and this information will be used to populate the new COVID-19 Disclosure Dashboard. The dashboard will show information on the number of cases by school (no personal information will be shared). More information will be shared as soon as it’s available. 

In addition, next week we will begin school absence reporting, which will provide data on how many students and staff were physically present in a school on a given day. This will be reported on the Ontario website, starting Monday, January 24th. If absences exceed 30% of the school population, we are required by the Ministry of Health to inform Ottawa Public Health who may provide additional direction to the school community.


All students should wear a high quality mask that is well-fitted. Here are some tips to help you check if your mask is fitting properly. In cold weather, masks worn outdoors can become damp or wet. Make sure you always carry a spare mask. For more information about mask wearing, guidelines, and recommendations, please visit Ottawa Public Health’s website

In case you missed it…

The OCDSB Virtual Night School Program for Winter 2022 is open for registration! This program is open to students in all school boards and adult learners. Registration is open until February 15th. More information, including how to register and a list of our course offerings, is available on our website. Families can also email us at [email protected] or call 613-239-2620 for more information.

2022-2023 Winter Break Survey: We're planning the Winter Break dates for the 2022-2023 school year, and there are two options of when it could be. In the first option, the last day of school will be Friday, December 16th, with the first day back on Tuesday, January 3rd (January 2 is a statutory holiday). In the second option, the last day of school will be Friday, December 23rd, and the first day back will be Monday, January 9. Fill out the survey and let us know which option you prefer. The survey closes on Wednesday, January 26, 2022. 

Thank you, 


Camille Williams-Taylor 

Director of Education 


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