Exams pull down a student’s marks

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Written by Submitted

Dear Editor,
Every year we see the results of the 50 per cent Diplomas hit Alberta students.  Archaic Alberta is the only province who has Diplomas count as 50 per cent.
British Columbia stopped giving Diplomas in 2011, Ontario dropped them a long time ago and Saskatchewan never had them, and somehow they all produce plenty of smart university grads, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians and so forth.
So why is Archaic Alberta so far behind on this?
Every year our kids get slaughtered at Diplomas, still we see no change, instead we have to pay to have our children upgrade at College before they can go on to their chosen careers.
Alberta is proud of its “superior” education, but so proud they aren’t asking the right questions? Why do we have the highest dropout rate in high school and the lowest transfer to post-secondary institutions.  But hey, lucky for us we have Diplomas that count for 50 per cent.  So students that can be on the honour roll from Grade 7-11 miss out in Grade 12.  With the added bonus the Government doesn’t have to fund the Rutherford scholarship in Grade 12.
University of Saskatchewan decided that Alberta’s diploma exams in fact do not tell the whole story of how well a student did in high school.
So, when deciding whether to admit an Alberta student, they will now look at all three, class work, diploma exams and the combined mark and take whichever is the highest.
That is how they are determining who gets scholarships.  Any parent with a student in high school knows how important marks are.  Diploma exams count as 50 per cent of the final mark.  A teenager with good marks in class all year can see his average drop after those exams just enough to be denied from a competitive faculty like engineering, nuclear medicine or whatever they wish to go into for a career. (Hopefully Alberta Universities and Colleges will follow suit when they are competing with students that have no diploma marks.)
The exams pull down a student’s marks making it less likely for Alberta students to graduate with an A average.  Of course, there are always students who do brilliantly on exams, but they are exceptions to the rule.  In lots of cases, these diploma exams, that no other students in the country have to write, lower marks of lots of smart students by a few points and that can make an enormous difference on whether they get into medical school or engineering or other careers.
We have real issues with Standardized tests.  The affect it has on a 17-year-old is enormous and the mark can affect a student and their self-esteem for the rest of their life.
The government recently cut spending for our children’s education, forcing many rural schools to do split classes.  That means students with diploma exams counting 50 per cent will have to be taught with another course happening at the same time.  Math 20-1/30-2 or Math 20-1/30-1 and so forth.
Maybe it is time for Archaic Alberta to change! Parents have asked for changes and so far it has fallen on deaf ears.  So much for living in a democratic society.
L. Jenson
Delburne, Ab

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