Final say: Worth of Alberta diploma exams drops to 30 per cent from half

EDMONTON — Starting next fall, Grade 12 students in Alberta will get more credit for their course work and there will be less emphasis on diploma exams. Education Minister Gordon Dirks announced Monday that a student’s final mark will be based on 30 per cent of the provincial exam — not the current 50 per cent.

EDMONTON — Starting next fall, Grade 12 students in Alberta will get more credit for their course work and there will be less emphasis on diploma exams.

Education Minister Gordon Dirks announced Monday that a student’s final mark will be based on 30 per cent of the provincial exam — not the current 50 per cent.

The worth of course work will be bumped up to 70 per cent from 50 per cent.

Dirks says more emphasis on school work over the course of a year will be a better measure of what a student has learned and retained.

“A single examination cannot assess all the strengths or weaknesses of a student, even on a single topic,” Dirks told a news conference.

“A single exam mark weighted at 50 per cent does not allow students who may have greater difficulty writing high-stakes exams, or who are undergoing unique stresses on the day of the exam, to fairly excel under the existing weighting regime.”

Opposition critics said the move is overdue. The Alberta School Boards Association passed a motion in 2014 asking for the change.

“This is something that we’ve been advocating for for some time,” said Deron Bilous of the NDP.

“A 50 per cent weighting on one exam for a whole course is far too high.

“Teachers, parents, (and) school board trustees that I’ve spoken with around the province have been calling for something that’s more in line with the rest of the country, which is more of a 70-30 split.”

Liberal Leader David Swann called the announcement progress.

“It will take the (inordinate) pressure off the final exams and improve the ability of students to be reflected in the value of their training and their education over the year.”

The province has also announced 24 more dual-credit partnerships for high school students. The arrangements allow students to earn post-secondary credits or workplace certification while completing high school.

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