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Provincial exams scrapped as part of new BC school curriculum

Last Updated May 27, 2016 at 6:18 am PDT

(iStock file photo)

Five standard provincial exams being replaced with 'assessments of core math and literacy skills'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – In a sweeping overhaul of the education system, provincial exams have been scrapped for secondary students, and parents will be asked to weigh in on report cards.

The five provincial exams students have been required to write will be replaced with two exams of core math and literacy skills that are the foundations for all subjects.

Kids will still be assessed in other subjects, but in a different way.

“We’re also moving to classroom assessment for those other subjects that used to have provincial exams — science, social studies, Grade 10 language arts — those are going to be assessed now at the local level in the classroom, at the school level,” says Education Minister Mike Bernier.

“Teachers know their students best and can choose a method to evaluate them that takes into account their strengths and their challenges, rather than having a provincial exam where every student is looked at simultaneously — being graded at the same level on the same issues. This allows that flexibility for teachers to really focus in on student strengths.”

Changes are likely coming to report cards as well.

Bernier says parents will be consulted between late June and October on what they want to know about their child’s progress, and how they want to get that information.

“Starting late June to October, parents will be consulted on what they want to know about how their child is progressing in school and how they want to receive that information. I ask everyone to stay tuned on that because we want to ensure that we have a robust engagement plan that we’re going to roll out over the next couple of months to make sure parents are engaged.”

Beginning September 2017, students will have to take a career education course to graduate. The government says that class will show them the connection between the classroom and life opportunities.

The new curriculum is coming in for Kindergarten to Grade 9 this fall, and will be available in draft for teachers to use for Grades 10 to 12.

BCTF ‘generally supportive of changes’

The BC Teachers’ Federation calls the changes to BC’s graduation requirements the “first steps in the implementation of the revised curriculum.”

“BC teachers and the Federation are generally supportive of the revised curriculum as a whole and the changes to the graduation program,” says BCTF President Jim Iker.

“For some time now, the BCTF has recommended the elimination of provincial exams, so this is a welcome move by government. For many students, provincial exams created significant barriers and took time away from actual learning. Over the years, provincial exams have tended to narrow the curriculum, force teachers to focus on content instead of skills and processes, and had a negative impact on students’ motivation.”

But the BCTF wishes the province would have announced more funding “to ensure teachers have the time and resources to get the job done.”

“In order to successfully implement the revised curriculum, teachers need more time, in-service training, and funding for the necessary resources,” says Iker. “You’re going to need newer, different materials, whether it’s textbooks or other resources. We want to see more individual attention for our students. We need to see smaller class sizes, more support for students with special needs, and more specialist teachers working with our students.”

Changes will not affect scholarship program

The BC Ministry of Education clarified to NEWS 1130 that the provincial scholarship program will not be altered as a result of the new curriculum.

“The Ministry conducted a comprehensive review of its Provincial Scholarships Program in 2015/16. A new Program was announced in August 2015, where the exams based scholarship “Graduation Program Examinations Scholarship” was being phased-out this school year,” the Ministry said in an email.

“There will be no scholarships based solely on exam scores effective for 2016/17 school year. Students will continue to be required to meet graduation requirements for their graduation year cohort to be eligible for the Provincial Scholarship Program, and will also continue to be required to meet the specific eligibility requirements for each scholarship program, including any academic bench mark criteria that might apply.”