Each year, conversations around the veracity of diploma exams pop up, and not just in educational circles. Despite the 2015 change that saw the exams drop from 50 to 30 per cent of a student’s overall grade, many critics say the exams are unfair, and that standardized testing is biased towards certain demographics of students.
They’re not wrong.
On the other hand, proponents of the exams say they help prevent grade inflation and ensure better educational outcomes for students wishing to go to university.
They’re also not wrong.
As a high school student, I wrote both versions of the exams — I was a Grade 11 student in 2015 and I wrote my English and Social 30 diplomas when they were worth 50 per cent. The next year I wrote my Biology and Math diplomas, and they were only worth 30 per cent.
To be honest, both experiences were stressful, and I say that as a student who (excluding the Ancient Greek torture method known in some circles as “trigonometry”) enjoyed exams.
Writing diplomas prepares students for university, where many classes will only be graded off of exams. For students planning on pursuing a career in trades, the experience will still come in handy. No matter the career, the quality of ones work never stops being tested and checked; getting that experience in a setting where re-writes are possible can’t be a bad thing.
I hope the exams remain, and I hope the province keeps them at a consequential mark, without adversely impacting a student’s future.