When school resumed on January 9, grade 12 students had just one week to refine their essay writing skills before the English diploma exam on January 16.
High school students in semestered grade 12 courses are currently in the midst of provincial diploma exams. Since 2016, the weighting of these exams has changed from 50% of the student’s final mark to 30% of the mark, with the other 70% determined by the teacher’s evaluation of the student’s work. So, with a decreased emphasis on the diploma exams, what’s their value?
In the opinion of Diana Richer, Biology 30 teacher at FG Miller Jr/Sr High School in Elk Point, “Government exams help ensure an even playing field for students in all schools in the province, especially for those kids going on to university. The weighting doesn’t change what I teach, and it doesn’t change the kids’ study and work habits. Most teachers are conscientious about preparing their students for moving on after high school, but the exams ensure that the kids all have the same background and consistent skills.” Richer says that the exams are “a good measurement tool for the teacher to judge his or her own teaching,” but that they should not be used as a tool to rank schools or teachers against each other. As for the change in weighting, Richer says, “30% is still a good chunk of the final mark to give the exams importance, whereas 50% made the diploma exams strenuous and stressful.”
Grade 12 Provincial Diploma exams continue on the following schedule: Monday, January 23 English Language Arts Part B; Tuesday, January 24 Social Studies Part B; Wednesday, January 25 Mathematics; Thursday, January 26 Biology; Friday, January 27 Chemistry; Monday, January 30 Physics & Science.
Glen Brodziak, superintendent of St Paul Education Regional Division No.1 (SPERD) says that the exam period is, “an important time, a busy time, and we wish all our high school students best of luck!”