Grade 12 students given choice to opt out of diploma exams this fall

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced Tuesday that Alberta students will have the option to write diploma exams for fall classes.

Students can still choose to write the exam which will be worth 30 per cent of their final grade

School boards in Ontario scrap exam, Universities assure flexibility in admission (CBC)

Students facing diploma exams in October and November can choose not to write them.

"I have made the decision to allow students and their parents to choose if they write diploma exams in October/November," Education Minister Adriana LaGrange tweeted on Tuesday. 

"I will continue monitoring the situation and will make decisions on future iterations of the diploma exams as we approach their administrations," LaGrange said.

Some students may not feel comfortable or be in the best position to write exams at this time, she said. 

However, if a student does choose to write the exam, it will still be worth 30 per cent of their final grade.

"We know these are challenging times and that's why we want to ensure students and their parents have the flexibility to make the best decision for their own situation this exam season," LeGrange's press secretary Colin Aitchison said In a written statement. 

Diploma exams are used to assess a student's achievement level in core Grade 12 courses and ensure province-wide achievement standards, a government website says.

The standardized tests, usually offered five times a year, were cancelled in March after the pandemic was declared. 

At a meeting last week, the Edmonton Public School Board agreed unanimously to suspend diploma exams for high school students in the 2020-21 academic year. 

Board trustees said requiring students to take the provincially-administered tests would add pressure to an already stressful learning environment during the pandemic.

'A step further' 

"I'm pleased to hear that the minister is supportive of this," said board chair Trisha Estabrooks.

"We as a board of trustees would have liked to see her go a step further in terms of a complete suspension of the exams, that is the motion we passed a week ago," Estabrooks added.

Even though the province aims to return to near-normal learning, this year is nowhere near that, said trustee Shelagh Dunn, who made the motion last week. 

"I believe it's unhealthy to act as if things are normal when they aren't," Dunn said when presenting the motion last Tuesday. "It could be a recipe for fatigue, exhaustion and burn out."

For students choosing to write the exams, school administrators will now look at the logistics of where and when those exams will be written and what that is going to look like, Estabrooks said.