Calgary

Alberta cancels provincial and diploma exams, releases at-home-learning guidelines

Courses will be completed either online or through options such as course-packaging and over-the-phone check-ins. Teachers will decide which lessons are needed to meet made grade requirements while kids work from home.

All students will receive a final grade and report card

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announces at-home learning guidelines. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

The province has cancelled all Grade 6 and 9 provincial achievement tests and Grade 12 diploma exams for this school year. 

They say that under special circumstances, students can request to write a diploma exam by speaking with their school.

Alberta Education made the announcement on Friday in conjunction with the release of new guidelines to direct how students will learn while in-school classes are cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is important that Albertans know that we are all working towards the same goal: to provide the best possible learning situation for our students during this very challenging and unprecedented time," said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange.

Jason Schilling with the Alberta Teachers' Association said cancelling the exams is a realistic approach. 

"We have to be aware of the fact that we can't put pressure on teachers and parents and students that we're going to recreate the classroom at home. It's just simply not going to be that way," he said.

"So we need to be able to work on assignments that are academically valuable for students when they're at home but provide a balance for parents who are going to also have this new workload that is put on them."

Jason Schilling of the ATA says teachers, parents and students shouldn't feel that they have to recreate the classroom in the home. (Jason Schilling/Twitter)

Alberta Education said school authorities throughout the province will offer at-home learning to all K-12 students.

Courses will be completed either online or through options such as course-packaging and over the phone check-ins. Teachers will decide which lessons are needed to meet made grade requirements while kids work from home, and at-home lessons will include specific tasks and projects. 

Bryan Szumlas, chief superintendent with Calgary Catholic School District, said teachers are now collaborating on best ways to bring lessons to life at home — and students will be back to work shortly.

"Like any big change, it's going to take some time, so we continue to ask our parents and our students to be patient, but we will be moving forward next week on this," he said.

The Calgary Board of Education said that after spring break, which starts next week, learning resources and activities will be shared online for parents. 

"We have created a Learning at Home webpage that offers a variety of educational ideas to support literacy, numeracy and wellness for kindergarten to Gr. 9 students. Also following spring break, we will be making available core classes through Brightspace by D2L for Gr. 10-12," reads a letter to parents.

The CBE said its traditional calendar schools will be closed from March 23 to 27.

During that time, the board said, principals and teachers are not expected to be working. Modified calendar schools will be on break until April 6.

"We know that our students and parents have many questions about student assessment, continuity of learning, preparation for post-secondary, scholarship applications and more," said CBE chief superintendent Christopher Usih.

"We are working on providing answers to all of these questions. We are grateful for the support of Alberta Education and our opportunity to work closely with both the ministry and other partners."

Kindergarten to Grade 6 will be assigned five hours of work per week with a focus on language, literacy, math and numbers.

Grades 7 to 9 will be assigned 10 hours of work per week with a focus on math, literacy, science and social studies.

High schools courses will be focused on specific core courses required for graduation including English, French, social studies, math, biology, chemistry and physics. It's expected that students be given an average of three hours of work per course, per week.

Alberta Education said high school students on track to receive 100 or more credits will still be eligible to graduate and receive a diploma this year, and principals now have the ability to award up to 15 credits to students in Grade 12 whose program has been impacted by class cancellations. 

"If a student is unable to complete a course that would have led them to achieving a high school diploma, such as a work experience or a career and technology studies course, principals have the ability to award credits to ensure the student graduates," said the ministry.

Courses will be completed either online or through course-packaging and phone check-ins. (AdvertisingGroup / Shutterstock)

The province said teachers will be responsible for assessing student progress and giving every student a final grade and report card, and all students who were on track to move on to the next grade level will.

Regardless of geography or socioeconomic status, LaGrange said, the province and school jurisdictions are working on ensuring all students have access to learning at home.

"As the method of teaching, that will vary across the province, of course, but we are allowing school divisions to make those determinations as they suit their students best," she said.

"We know that school authorities, schools and teachers know what's best for their communities and what they have in terms of accessibility. So whether it is an online program or whether there are options to actually provide paper products, that will vary across the province."

About the Author

Lucie Edwardson

Journalist

Lucie Edwardson is a reporter with CBC Calgary, currently focused on bringing you stories related to education in Alberta. In 2018 she headed a pop-up bureau in Lethbridge, Alta,. Her experience includes newspaper, online, TV and radio. Follow her on Twitter @LucieEdwardson

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