Manitoba withdraws from Grade 12 exams | Rare Techy


Instead of distributing timed provincial exams to final-year students, the government plans to pilot a series of new standardized tests created by local teachers for Class 10 students in 2022-23.

Manitoba will abolish grade 12 provincial exams, a major step toward reforming the province-wide assessment schedule for the K-12 system.

Instead of distributing timed provincial exams to final-year students, the government plans to pilot a series of new standardized tests created by local teachers for Class 10 students in 2022-23.

“There’s a sense of relief,” said Marco Soares, an incoming Grade 12 student at Sturgeon Heights College. “But at the same time, I have to think about the future, basically, I wonder how this will affect students going to university next September.”

Soares, 17, wants to apply to the University of Manitoba to study political science, but the thought of the high-stakes exams that await him in post-secondary education leaves him feeling nervous and unprepared. The fall term will mark three years since the Winnipeg teenager took his first, traditional high school exams.

As educators grapple with COVID-19 disruptions, many have adjusted their assessment approaches in response to student well-being and the logistics of social distancing.

The province suspended its annual Grade 12 tests at the end of 2020 after teachers raised concerns about unnecessary stress tests for students amid the global health crisis. At the time, officials cited fairness and validity issues because many students did not return to full-time in-class instruction.

Summative tests for math, English language arts, and French, worth 30 percent of the senior student’s final grade in each subject, have become a staple of the K-12 system.

High school teacher Darcia Jones has advocated for a move away from the current testing model throughout her career.

“I’ve long believed that the exit exam at the end of grade 12 is not particularly helpful for teaching and learning … when those results come in, it’s too late for us to do anything about it,” said Jones, who teaches grade 9, 11 and 12 English language arts in Winnipeg.

The updated tests should be diagnostic in nature to improve teaching and learning during a student’s final high school years, she said.

Jones noted that he was confused about how English tests would be marked because the subject’s new curriculum framework does not use an “outcomes model”.

A spokesperson for Manitoba Education said the move from Grade 12 to Grade 10 was in response to a call for action by the K-12 Commission.

“(It) provides an opportunity for divisions, schools, teachers, and students to use assessment results to plan for students’ continued learning, address student learning needs within their senior year programming, and advance resource allocation. Pre-Grade 10 Services and Responsive Services,” she wrote in an email.

The K-12 Commission, which launched an extensive, months-long review of the public education system in 2019, addressed the issue in Recommendation No. 59 of 75.

The report, released in March 2021 after a one-year delay due to covid, suggests Manitoba create curriculum-based tests for math and literacy in grades 3 or 4, 6 or 7 and 10.

“Increase accountability and transparency by implementing provincial curriculum-based tests for math and literacy (with a focus on reading and writing) in grades 3 or 4, 6 or 7 and 10, and make school-level scores available to the public,” the recommendation said.

“Some of the content of the questions used in the tests should be based on the science and social studies curriculum of those years.”

Mathematics Prof. While Anna Stock welcomes the new Grade 10 exams, she wants the province to maintain its Grade 12 assessment.

Some grading consistency is lost without existing tests, because each student’s mark on their standardized test equals the same amount as their overall course average, said the University of Winnipeg’s Stock.

“I always say, you can’t fix what you can’t see. If we can’t see how our students are doing, if that information isn’t available to the public, we can’t improve it,” she said.

Manitoba requires teachers to administer and mark formative assessments to measure students’ reading and numeracy levels in Grade 3 and Grade 4 (French Immersion Reading).

In middle years classrooms, grade 7 learners are given similar tests to assess whether they are meeting number sense expectations. Eighth graders are tested on their reading comprehension and expository writing skills midway through the school year.

A government spokesperson indicated that the existing elementary school assessment will continue this year.

The future of those tests remains uncertain, as does the province’s decision to publish school-level test results across the K-12 system.

The government’s latest blueprint for K-12 education says the provincial assessment program plans to include summative assessments based on the Manitoba curriculum in the early, middle years and grade 10.

In a prepared statement, Education Minister Wayne Evasco said the shift to Grade 10 timed summative exams “provides an opportunity to intervene where needed to build student success using door numbers or statistics.”

James Bedford, president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Association, was unavailable for an Aug. 19 interview.


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