Diploma exams will only make up 20 per cent of students’ final grades during the 2022-23 school year to account for students’ learning loss and mental health struggles due to the pandemic, says Alberta Education.
The exams will return to 30 per cent of final grades in the 2023-24 school year.
“Changing the weight of diploma exams will reduce the burden on students while still giving them valuable exam writing experience,” said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange who met with over 40 public, separate and francophone school authorities and many other stakeholders to hear their perspectives since June.
Ryan Sawula, associate superintendent of curriculum with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, said this adjustment to alleviate stress and anxiety for students is appreciated.
“We were very pleased that Alberta Education continues to collaborate with stakeholders in planning for student assessment. We look forward to continued collaboration with Alberta Education as we continue to examine balancing the mental health of students with good practices in academic rigor and assurance,” Sawula said.
Della Ruston, associate superintendent of learning services for Red Deer Public Schools, called the change welcome news that will ease pressure on students and ensure they feel more confident in their abilities.
“We recognize that some students may lag in their academic progress as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, our Board of Trustees has allocated $700,000 for the 2022/2023 school year to focus on academic support for students who require additional interventions, ensuring they reach a high level of achievement and their full potential,” Ruston said.
The Alberta School Boards Association was also pleased with the government’s decision.
Alberta Education says diploma exams are key to maintaining fairness and high standards for all students, but recognizes the unprecedented challenges students have faced.
The decision also reflects a Child and Youth Well-Being Panel Report, and the recent findings in an Alberta School Councils Association survey of parents, which both recognized the learning loss students have experienced.
Diploma exams are normally administered in November, January, April, June and August.
In spring 2020, diploma exams were cancelled in April and June because students were learning from home for the last few months of the school year. They were successfully administered in August of that year.
During the 2020-21 school year, all diploma exams were optional.
For the 2021-22 school year, the government cancelled January diploma exams, and all remaining diploma exams for the year were weighted at 10 per cent.