Ontario English Catholic Teachers

Principal Changes Students’ Marks


A member calls a unit president to ask if the principal can direct the teacher to change some students' marks. It seems that the principal believes the class average is too low.


The principal does have the authority to change students' marks, even to promote a student to whom a teacher has issued a failing grade. Under the Education Act, principals have the authority to assign grades and promote students; teachers are responsible for establishing and adhering to assessment and evaluation policies mandated by the province.


There are many reasons why this and similar situations arise. In related cases, students and/or parents object to marks and ask that they be reviewed and/or changed. The situation can often be fraught with pressures known or unknown by teachers.

The government, the Ontario College of Teachers, school boards and the public expect teachers, as professionals, to follow established curriculum. The curriculum documents mandate assessment and evaluation policies. The policies establish both content and performance standards which teachers must use as the framework for their assessment and evaluation practices. For example, the criteria for assessment and evaluation and the degrees of achievement are mandated by the achievement charts in each subject document.

In their assessments, teachers collect evidence of student achievement through a variety of methods: tests, examinations, etc. Marks are a logical extension of the curriculum delivery and assessment scheme. Teachers can therefore justify and explain students' marks if they have made proper use of the achievement charts.

If principals want to assign different marks, they may do so. However, teachers cannot then be expected to justify the changed marks - nor is this their responsibility. If a parent or student asks for an explanation, the teacher should direct the question to the principal.

Teachers should be aware that acts defined as professional misconduct under the Ontario College of Teachers Act, 1996 include, "Signing or issuing, in the member's professional capacity, a document that the member knows or ought to know contains a false, improper or misleading statement.

If a teacher has followed the framework for assessment and evaluation outlined in the achievement charts in the program document, and a mark has been changed in a way which the teacher cannot justify, the teacher should communicate any objections and concerns, in writing, to the principal.