WESTLOCK/BARRHEAD — Grade 12 students in Pembina Hills are matching or exceeding the rest of the province in English Language Arts, Social Studies, Biology and Science, but are scoring well below other Alberta students in Chemistry, Physics and especially Mathematics.
That’s according to the 2022-2023 Diploma Exam results presented to Pembina Hills trustees at their Nov. 22 meeting by director of education services Raime Drake.
The diploma exam results were packaged alongside the Provincial Achievement Test (PAT) results, which were detailed in the Nov. 28 edition of Town & Country This Week.
Unlike the PATs, which essentially function as a barometer of Grade 6 and 9 students’ understanding of the course material, Drake said that diploma exams account for 20 per cent of a Grade 12 student’s final mark in a particular subject.
She noted that the weighting of diploma exams will increase to 30 per cent in the 2023-2024 school year, which is what it had been prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drake reported that local Grade 12 students tended to do the best in the two English Language Arts (ELA) courses, 30-1 and 30-2.
In ELA 30-1, approximately 80.4 per cent of students achieved an acceptable standard compared to 83.7 per cent of students across Alberta.
In ELA 30-2, a full 88 per cent of Pembina Hills students achieved the acceptable standard compared to 86.2 per cent of students provincially.
It's also worth noting that a full 22.3 per cent of local Grade 12s reached the standard of excellence (over 80 per cent), while only 12.7 per cent of students provincially did the same.
This may be partly attributed to participation in the ELA 30-2 diploma exams doubling from the previous year, going up from 121 in 2021-2022 to 242 in 2022-2023.
Another strong subject for local students was Social Studies. A total of 85.1 per cent of local students writing the Social Studies 30-1 diploma exam achieved an acceptable standard compared to 83.5 per cent of students provincially.
In Social Studies 30-2, a full 86 per cent of local Grade 12 achieved the acceptable standard compared to 78.1 per cent of students provincially.
Pembina Hills students also had comparable results to the province in Biology 30 and Science 30. The latter in particular was a bit of a success story; in 2019-2020, 92.9 per cent of local students had achieved an acceptable standard, but only 70.8 per cent of students achieved that standard in 2021-2022. (Exams were cancelled in 2020-2021 due to the pandemic.)
This year, 82.9 per cent of Pembina Hills students achieved an acceptable standard in Science 30 compared to 79.4 per cent of students provincially.
Unfortunately, local students under-performed in Mathematics 30-1 and 30-2 compared to their provincial counterparts.
Only 51.7 per cent of local Grade 12 students achieved an acceptable standard in Math 30-1 compared to 70.8 per cent provincially.
In Math 30-2, only 59.3 per cent of local students reached the acceptable standard compared to 71.1 per cent of students provincially.
However, it should be noted that local results were higher than 2021-2022, when only 49.8 per cent of students reached the acceptable standard.
Drake acknowledged that despite year-to-year results improving a little, “we know we have work to do in Math.”
In Chemistry 30, 74.5 per cent of local Grade 12 achieved an acceptable standard compared to 80.5 per cent provincially.
That said, it should again be noted that local students scored considerably lower in 2021-2022, with only 60.8 per cent of students achieving an acceptable standard.
Finally, in Physics 30, only 74.5 per cent of local Grade 12 achieved the acceptable standard compared to 82.3 per cent provincially.