The weight of final exams for Grade 12 students in Alberta will soon be lighter - with more credit given to the work they do all year, rather than what they score during departmental exams.

On Monday, education minister Gordon Dirks announced starting Sept.1 Grade 12 final exams will be worth 30 per cent of a student's mark, compared to the current 50 percent.

“A change to a 70-30 weighting will ensure that we are putting a higher weighting where it belongs on the hard work students put in throughout the school year,” he said to a crowd of educators and politicians at McKay Avenue School in Edmonton.

Teachers have been demanding the change for years and in Nov.2014 school boards in Alberta formalized the request by banding together and asking the minister to “sit down and have a frank and honest discussion” about the weighting of diploma exams.

“This is a red banner day,” said John Tomkinson, chair of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic school division based in Leduc, who advocated for changes to the scoring of final exams.

“The notice was relatively short but we’re not entirely surprised by this move,” he said noting the flurry of announcements coming from the Alberta government in recent weeks.

Tomkinson said the change will not compromise the quality of education in Alberta.

“This modification to the way that we weight the final mark does not lower the bar it simply modifies the measurement.”

Diploma exams have counted for 50 per cent of a student's final grade in Alberta for three decades. Students have said the heavy weighting disregards the work they do all year.

Students write diploma exams for Grade 12 core courses; language arts, social studies, math and science. The first round of diploma exams to be written with the new weighting system will take place in November 2015.

Dirks also announced the education department’s decision to offer more partnerships with post-secondary institutions and workplaces so that students can earn credits or certification while still in high school. For example, a high school student will be able to take a course in esthetics or accounting and get credits at a post-secondary institution.