St. Peter on university’s list used to judge applicants
St. Peter Secondary School is reportedly on a list kept by the University of Waterloo to judge applicants by their high schools and not just their marks, according to a Thursday report by Global News.
The list measures the gap between the marks of high school graduates and the university’s engineering students, dubbed the “adjustment factor” that is used to help make future admission decisions, according to the report.
The existence of the list was not a secret, but its contents were, reported Global News, which obtained the list under Ontario access-to-information laws.
St. Peter is listed at number nine with an average of 23.5. The school made the list in 2017 and 2018 with respective gaps of 24 and 22.9.
Peterborough Victoria Northumberland and Clarington Catholic District School Board officials declined to comment Thursday on the assessment tools that a specific faculty in one Ontario university uses to vet its applicants.
The board cited the “host of variables” as to why a student’s grade average could decline from high school to university and how a student’s mark at the end of first year doesn’t necessarily predict how a student will progress through university and into the workforce.
Chemical engineering professor Bill Anderson, Waterloo’s engineering’s admission director for the past decade, called the list “one of our tools in the tool kit to select students that would be a good fit,” Global News reported.
“Obviously, we look at grades. We look at the adjustment factor. We look at extracurricular activities, awards, participation in events,” he told the broadcaster.
“We also look at potential work experience, volunteer experience that looks like work. We also look for some indication that they know what engineering is about — what they’re getting into, why they’re getting into it.”
The list included some 74 high schools at some point in the 2016, 2017 or 2018 admission cycles, according to the report.
The adjustment factor works in favour of about two-thirds of the schools on the list, because their graduates have gaps less than the Ontario average of 16.3.
Grimsby Secondary School, which has topped the list for three years in a row, had the largest gap with an average of 27.5 from 2016 to 2018. The school is set to be closed after local school board officials voted last year to combine three high schools into one.
Global News originally requested the list in April 2016, but Waterloo refused to release it on privacy grounds, leading to an appeal to Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner, the broadcaster reported.
A ruling ordered the release of the list last June and Waterloo complied, opting not to appeal the decision in court. The university then voluntarily released the data for the 2017 and 2018 admission cycles.