Ottawa

No final exams for OCDSB, OCSB students this year

Ottawa's English public and Catholic school boards are among those cancelling year-end exams in order to ease the stress on secondary students and teachers during an unprecedented and unpredictable school year.

Province gave school boards the choice to opt out due to turmoil of pandemic

There will be no final exams for secondary students in the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board and Ottawa Catholic School Board this year. (Vetta/Getty Images)

Ottawa's English public and Catholic school boards are among those cancelling year-end exams in order to ease the stress on secondary students and teachers during an unprecedented and unpredictable school year.

"As OCDSB secondary schools are presently in a quadmester or octomester hybrid model for learning, exam days have been removed from the school year calendar in order to [prioritize] these days as in-class instructional time," the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), the city's largest board, wrote in a statement to CBC.

"In the OCDSB, examinations/summative evaluations will not occur for the 2020-2021 school year and final grades will be based on 100% term work only."

Similarly, the Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) says rather than being tested at the end of each quadmester, high school students will instead be assessed on their course work and a final assignment. In a statement to CBC, OCSB spokesperson Sharlene Hunter said that final assignment, which could be an essay, performance or similar task, will "demonstrate comprehension of the course's overall expectations."

Hunter said the board learned from the province earlier this month that it was being given the discretion to determine how to evaluate its own students.

On Thursday, Ottawa's French Catholic board, the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est (CECCE), and the French public board, the Conseil des écoles publiques de l'Est de l'Ontario (CEPEO), confirmed they are also cancelling final exams.

Province heard 'need for flexibility'

Caitlin Clark, spokesperson for Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce, said the province decided school boards needed more flexibility in determining the curriculum this year.

Very rarely do I get new information from a final exam that I didn't already know about the student.- Tasha Ausman, University of Ottawa, Western Québec School Board

"One area where we heard the need for flexibility is in the type of assessment that teachers could use in determining students' final grades, including the requirement for a 30 per cent final evaluation," Clark said in an email to CBC.

Tasha Ausman, a professor of education at the University of Ottawa and a high school teacher with the anglophone Western Québec School Board (WQSB), doesn't think exams are the best way to evaluate what students have learned over the course of the school year.

Tasha Ausman, who teaches high school in the Western Québec School Board, says exams aren’t necessary to evaluate students and add a significant amount of extra stress to a school year that is already unusual. 1:13

"Tests are not the only data that we should be collecting from students, so when we repeatedly test students — and that includes final exams — I think very rarely do I get new information from a final exam that I didn't already know about the student."

On Thursday, a spokesperson for the WQSB told Radio-Canada the province hasn't provided any new guidelines on final exams, so for now they are going ahead.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story said the Western Québec School Board has opted not to administer final exams this year. In fact, a spokesperson for the board told Radio-Canada the province hasn't issued guidelines on exams, so for now they are going ahead.
    Oct 15, 2020 11:15 AM ET

About the Author

Sandra Abma

Journalist

Sandra Abma is a veteran CBC arts journalist. If you have an event or idea you want to share, please do at sandra.abma@cbc.ca.

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