B.C. students writing some provincial exams on Tuesday will not have to complete previously required essay questions, the Ministry of Education has revealed.

  • Two written response questions have been removed from the Social Studies 11 exam.
  • One written response has been removed from the English 10 exam, but one written response question remains.
  • Students will still need to complete the multiple choice sections on both exams.
  • Grade 12 provincial exams are not affected because they are covered by essential service designation from the Labour Relations Board, meaning teachers will be marking those.

In an email sent to superintendents across B.C., Deputy Minister of Education Rob Wood said the written answers were being cut because of concerns “related to the quality and validity of the marking."

Under normal circumstances, the exams would be marked by teachers. However, due to the ongoing provincewide teachers' contract dispute and strike, school administrators will be marking the exams this year.

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The essay component of certain provincial exams has been removed, the B.C. Ministry of Education revealed Monday. Students will still need to complete the multiple choice portion. (Vixit/Shutterstock)

Given not all administrators have expertise in Grade 10 and 11 social studies and English, a number of districts suggested to the ministry that it would be fairer to simply scrap the portions of the exams that require that expertise to mark.

Student scores will be assessed based on the reduced set of questions and will be “adjusted accordingly,” said the Vancouver School Board’s website.

Students will have the option to rewrite any provincial exam within a one-year period, and those wishing to retake the cancelled sections of the exams can do so online in November.

Vancouver School Board chair Patti Bacchus said the change is unfair to students.

"Some students simply don't do well on multiple choice exams. It is a pretty simple way to find out what people know. It really reduces their opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and what they have learned through the more essay-style questions."

B.C.'s 41,000 teachers launched a full strike last week, following three weeks of rotating strikes and a partial lockout by the government. It is not clear when talks between the two sides will resume, after mediator Vince Ready declined to get involved in the dispute over the weekend.