EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – Fall diploma exams are being made optional for all grade 12 students across Alberta.
In an exclusive interview with 660 NEWS, Education Minister Adrianna LaGrange said this will only affect diploma exams written in October and November.
#BREAKING: Minister of Education @AdrianaLaGrange tells me diploma exams will be made OPTIONAL for all gr.12 students in #Alberta. This will only affect diploma exams written in October/November. Some school boards split up exams to be written 4 times a year because of #COVID19.
— Saif Kaisar (@StaySaif) October 13, 2020
Students can decide to sit these exams out with no effect on their grades or write them for full 30 per cent marks.
LaGrange said she spoke with parents, students, education partners, and consulted with her chief advisory council before coming to this decision.
“I was hearing from them that there was some stress in the system because of the pandemic, we’re certainly in some unusual times. They’re also seeing a bit of a gap in the learning that has occurred from last year.”
Meanwhile, the Alberta Teachers Association (ATA), weighed in on the decision saying it’s a good first step.
“We need to find ways to de-stress the education system right now as we’re trying to deal with education during a pandemic and this is a good move for students and teachers,” said ATA President Jason Schilling.
While Schilling believes this is a move in the right direction, making diploma exams optional might not go far enough.
“Ultimately, what I’d like to see is the exams outright cancelled for the school year. Making them optional still can put some pressure on teachers and students to make sure they’re preparing for the exams.”
This is a good first step. We need to address the remainder of the school year, will continue to advocate for canceling all standardized tests outright for the rest of year. Let’s focus on wellbeing and learning. Not exams. https://t.co/nUyPO5j5no
— jason schilling (@schill_dawg) October 13, 2020
Future diploma exams will also be evaluated, and LaGrange will decide if those will be made optional as well. The decisions are expected closer to the dates the exams are written.
Some school boards have split up exams to be written four times a year instead twice a year because of COVID-19.