But if you don’t take the test, you won’t get a grade.
Diploma exams have been a problem during COVID-19 after schools across the Lakeland and province were forced to close earlier this year, leaving questions about this year’s exams.
However, Alberta Education seems to be attempting to address these concerns while remaining conscious of any potential issues down the road.
“The official word we have is that the exams are going to be optional,” said Northern Light Public Schools communications officer Nicole Garner. “Beyond that, not much else has changed — the exams still go towards 30 per cent of a student’s grade, and if they elect not to take it, they just won’t have that 30 per cent.”
The exams will also need to be written in person at exam centres, which would be at any of Northern Lights’ high schools.
Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange also released a statement earlier this month that revealed so far only the first writings for the exams in November are scheduled as optional.
Alberta Education made the decision to schedule the writings after backlash over their cancellations in the 2019/2020 school year, with many voicing their concern that post-secondaries would not accept applicants lacking the exam’s percentage.
Alberta Education has urged students to reach out to their prospective institutions and ask about their position on acceptance and whether or not they’ll require the exam’s mark.
“If a student decides to write the exam, but they get a mark that’s lower than what they had wanted, they won’t have the option to say I don’t want this factoring into my percentage,” said Garner. “That’s why you should get in touch with wherever you’re planning to go to school, so you can determine if it’s in your best interest to take the exam.”
Garner also revealed that the province had given school districts the option of opting out of Provincial Achievement Tests, and that NLPS has opted not to have the PATs for Grade 6 and Grade 9 students this year.
When asked if the choice of writing diploma exams would stay optional in the future, Garner said there hasn’t been any decisions of that kind from Alberta Education.
What will happen with the remaining four regularly scheduled writings has yet to be decided, and are likely to be made closer to each date in January, April, June, and August.