Alberta diploma exams optional for October and November amid COVID-19 pandemic


Article content

Diploma exams scheduled for October and November will be optional for Alberta students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced on Twitter Tuesday morning that parents and students will be given a choice as part of an update to the province’s school re-entry plan.

“If a student writes a Diploma Exam, it will still be worth 30 per cent of their final mark,” she tweeted.

“I will continue monitoring the situation, and will make decisions on future iterations of the Diploma Exams as we approach their administrations.”

If students opt not to write the exams, the marks awarded by their teachers will be their final grades in their courses.

In a follow-up statement, Colin Aitchison, LaGrange’s press secretary, said some students may not feel comfortable or be in the best position to write exams.

“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,” he said.

Article content

The decision comes after the Edmonton Public School Board passed a motion last week calling on the provincial government to suspend diploma exams and provincial achievement tests (PATs) across the province during the 2020-2021 school year.

In a report tabled at its Oct. 6 board meeting, school officials said it was not clear if diploma exams would offer a meaningful measure of student achievement amongst the uncertainty and disruption of the current school year because of isolation, additional stress, the move to online learning and the condensed material being delivered as part of the new quarter system.

The next set of exams are scheduled for January 2021.

This is not the first time diploma exams have been made optional in Alberta. During the 2013 Calgary flood, all students were exempted from exams, though those who wanted to write them were permitted to.