Diploma exam changes

In a long foreseen and requested move, the province is changing how much of a Grade 12 student’s final mark is determined by diploma exams.

In a long foreseen and requested move, the province is changing how much of a Grade 12 student’s final mark is determined by diploma exams. Starting on Sept. 1st, the highly stressful diploma exams will only count for 30% of a student’s final grade, opposed to the previous 50%. The mandatory Grade 12 diploma exams, in core subjects like English, Math and Social Studies, will be worth a lessening blow to a student, now at 30% with the remaining of the grade assigned by a teacher.

The province made the announcement this past Monday, stating that the move will assist in providing a more accurate reflection of a student’s performance throughout a course by placing a greater weight on a teacher’s assessment of a student’s abilities and knowledge through course work.

“We want students to benefit from classroom assessments that reflect their abilities over a long period of time, rather than relying so heavily on one assessment lasting only a few hours,” stated Minister of Education Gordon Dirks in a recent press release. This move is not only good news for those who lobbied for the move well over a year ago, but also for those students who have test anxiety and may falter under pressure of a test executed over a couple hours.

Many school boards, like STAR Catholic are welcoming the change.

“It’s something we have been advocating for some time and the change will undoubtedly be a benefit to all students,” said STAR Catholic Board Chair John Tomkinson in a release.

STAR Catholic brought a resolution forward, calling for the change to the diploma exams’ weighting, to the fall Alberta School Board’s Association meeting last November.

“This is an issue that has been raised over the years by our students and parents, but also by teachers, administrators and school boards across the province,” stated Tomkinson. “I’m proud of STAR Catholic’s involvement in the process and in bringing the issue to the forefront for the betterment of our students and students across Alberta.”

By placing so much weight and emphasis on something so important in a Grade 12 student’s life, and critical to their graduation, like one exam, the pressure could be too much.

That one exam, that the student falters at for whichever reason during the scheduled testing time, might be the difference between passing or failing, graduating or attending high school for one more year.

By providing students the opportunity to be graded, based more so on their class work they produce during the semester, is a real breath of fresh air.

The first round of diploma exams with the new weighting will be written in November.


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