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Value of diploma exams pared down

Posted on November 12, 2015 by Vauxhall Advance

Nikki Jamieson
Vauxhall Advance

Grade 12 students; you can now breathe a little easier come exam time. There won’t be so much of your mark at stake anymore.

The 2015/16 school year will be the first year in Alberta that the Grade 12 diploma exam marks will be worth merely 30 per cent of a students final grade, instead of 50 per cent like it has been in previous years.

“This is a big change in this school year,” said Amber Darroch, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Horizon School Board.
“There’s more focus on a variety of evidence that teachers collect, rather then one single test.”

This change would mean that a student’s final grade would be more reflective on how they preformed throughout the semester and school year, which now makes up 70 per cent of their overall mark, rather then a test that a student sat down one day to write.

Much like for the pilot Student Learning Assessment for Grade 3 students, the main argument against the 50 per cent mark has been it is unfair to place so much stress on a single exam, where having a bad day not doing well could mean not getting into university.

“The argument is, for a single exam administered on a single day, to have such high stakes when we know it’s not a perfect assessment. We know there are variables. What happens if a kid has a fender-bender on the way to school? Or they’re not feeling well that day? They still go in and write the test and don’t do as well. Is it appropriate then, that they shouldn’t get into their university program of choice, because that test counted for so much?”

This change will come into effect for any students who write in the 2015/16 school year, including summer students who write in the beginning of 2015/16.
Students also don’t need to worry about re-writing the exam and getting a lower mark. For example, if under the 50/50 marking a student received a 65 per cent in classroom instruction and 55 per cent in the exam, getting a final mark of 60 per cent, and then retook the course this school year under the 70/30 marking and got 80 per cent and 55 per cent respectively, making the final grade 73 per cent, the latter final score is the one on their transcript. The same case will apply if they retook the course and received a higher mark on the 50/50 marking scheme; the higher score will appear on their transcript.

Grade 12 students take diploma exams on English 30-1 or 30-2, Social 30-1 or 30-2, Math 30-1 or 30-2, Biology 30, Chemistry 30 and Physics 30. Over 90 percent of Horizon students passed all of these exams, which is a higher percentage then the province except in Social 30-2, where the province had a high percentage pass.

However, the province as a whole in the school year 2014/15 had more students score over 80 per cent in Math 30-2, Biology 30, Chemistry 30 and Physics 30.

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