Final exams could be cancelled for some Ottawa high school students as teachers step up their job action.  Final report card marks could also be affected. The Ottawa-Carleton District of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation is letting individual teachers decide what they do with final assessments involving exams and year-end projects called “summatives.”

For Grade 12 student Mia Laursen, university is on the horizon, with final projects and final exams still to go, maybe. 

‘If our marks get affected due to this strike,’ says Laursen, ‘it will be very frustrating if it affects our university entrances.’

Those end of year evaluations are worth 30% of a student's grade.  In Ottawa high schools, students write either a final and a big project called a summative or two summatives.

Today, the Ottawa-Carleton District of the OSSTF said it will let teachers decide whether they cancel a final or a summative.

‘We’re on strike, this is a sanction,’ says Dan Maxwell, the president of the local teachers bargaining unit.

‘I would suggest this isn't going to hinder students,’ Maxwell added, ‘In fact, it might be helpful because parents are always telling us that the tasks at the end of year are onerous , especially for those in senior  grade 12 students.’

Not so, according to Grade 12 student Amanda Byrne, ‘Some people are depending on those final exams and summatives to bring up their marks,’ she says.’

The Ottawa Public School Board says it has also been notified that teachers will not be entering final grades in report cards; administrative staff with do that with a priority focus on the Grade 12 students.

‘The other students we are concerned about are those in grades 9, 10, 11 who may have failed,’ says Jennifer Adams, the Director of Education with the Ottawa-Carleton District School board, ‘Applications for summer school begin July 2nd so they are the other priority.  We will make sure their marks are inputted as well.’

‘It's frustrating,’ says student Amanda Byrne, ‘we already had a strike with no sports and extracurricular activities. There’s so much uncertainty and no one knows what's going on.’

The unions warn more uncertainty may be on the way this fall, if an agreement isn't reached with the provincial government by the end of summer. Peter Giuliani is the President of the Ottawa Carleton Elementary Teachers’ Federation.

‘Sure if you are going to say we're not negotiating over the summer and you're going to have to deal with it, you're begging us to step it up, what else would we do?’ Giuliani commented at a news conference in Ottawa hosted by the Ottawa and District Labour Council.

The Labour Council has joined forces with the OSSTF and OCETF and several other unions who are currently in bargaining with the provincial government.

They hope as a group to focus the public’s attention on what they believe to be a government attack on public workers.

‘The public has to wake up to fact that the services they believe they have a right to are being systematically eroded,’ says Giuliani.

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board has included this update on its website outlining what actions it says the OSSTF is now taking:


Secondary teachers and occasional teachers remain in a legal strike position and are undertaking a partial withdrawal of service.  The extent of the service withdrawal has increased and this will have an impact on students.  Teachers have been advised by the union that as part of the strike action they can disregard District direction related to assessment and evaluation and exercise professional judgment in how they undertake certain duties.  As a result, the specific impact of the service withdrawal (struck work)will vary by classroom and/or by school.  There are five primary areas that will be affected:


1. Final Exams/Summatives - Final assessment tasks for secondary students may change; this includes summatives and exams.  The union has provided direction to its members that as part of struck work, each teacher can use professional judgment to determine whether or not to continue with planned evaluation tasks, rather than follow District direction in this regard.  That means teachers may decide to change the evaluation plan that was included in the course outline at the start of the term. Principals will do their best to post any changes to exam schedules on the school website, but teachers have been advised not to communicate changes to principals.  Students and parents should contact the teacher directly for further clarification.


Background - Ministry policy requires that the final grades of secondary students be determined based on a calculation between the term work (70%) and the final evaluations that occur towards the end of the course (30%). The OCDSB procedure further specifies that the 30% be comprised of a minimum of two evaluation tasks. Based on the professional judgment of the teacher, this may be two summative tasks that take place before the scheduled exam period, or the combination of a summative task as well as a final exam. Teachers communicate the evaluation plan to students and parents as part of the course outline which is distributed at the beginning of the term.  As part of the job action, teachers have been directed that they are not required to have two tasks, but can exercise their judgment to have only one.


2. Report cards - Final grades are entered into the District’s student data system by teachers prior to the end of the school year.  As part of struck work, the local union has directed their members not only to provide only marks (no comments or learning skills), but also that they should not enter marks. This will result in a delay in report cards for secondary students. The mark entry will have to be undertaken by principals, vice-principals, and supervisors (current and retired). Our priorities for mark entry will be grade 12 students to ensure completion of post-secondary applications; and students in any grade who have failed a course to allow for summer school applications by the July 2 start date. All other report cards will be delayed.


Background - Normally secondary teachers are responsible for completing report cards at the end of the year, including entering the information into the system.  Over 1250 teachers are involved in this process.


3. Graduation/Commencement ceremonies – Ceremonies are planned by schools and are expected to proceed.  The local union has informed its members that they may continue to participate in graduation ceremonies to celebrate their students’ accomplishments.  However, the union has also advised teachers that they are not bound by the timelines for mark submission established by their principals. A delay in mark entry as a result of the service withdrawal can affect decision making about academic awards. If the submission of grades is not done in a timely manner, it is possible that graduation ceremonies will be held without the presentation of some or all academic awards. In that case, academic award recipients will be notified at a later date.  Information about graduation/commencement ceremonies is posted on the school website.


4. Credit Rescue/Credit Recovery – The local union has provided direction to its members not to fill out credit rescue/recovery forms for their students in need. Nonetheless, the District’s expectation is that teachers will, at a minimum, provide verbal guidance to Student Success teachers so that our most vulnerable learners receive the targeted support they need.  Parents with concerns about a child’s progress with credit rescue/recovery should contact the classroom teacher.


Background – In our District there is a minimum of one Student Success teacher in every secondary school. When a student is experiencing difficulty meeting the learning expectations in a course, the classroom teacher provides in-class support and additional support may also be provided by the Student Success teacher. The classroom teacher fills out a credit rescue/recovery report that provides the Student Success teacher with a road map of the learning needs of the student. Our District data shows that this dual support mechanism enables approximately half of all students with failing grades at the midterm to be successful by the end of the term.


5. Grade 9 Provincial Math Assessment - The local union has provided direction to its members stating that teachers can independently determine whether their class will participate in the provincial assessment this year.  If a teacher chooses not to participate in EQAO, then he or she may decide to offer an alternate summative assessment and/or exam.


Background - Across the province, secondary schools administer the EQAO Grade 9 Provincial Mathematics Assessment between May 28 and June 14.  In most school districts, this provincial assessment is also used as a summative task that counts toward the 30% final mark as it measures learning related to the grade 9 course curriculum.  Provincial assessments are an important source of data on student achievement.