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Ministry cuts High school provincial exams from 5 to 2

From now on, high school students will have fewer provincial exams to study for.

The Ministry of Education made the announcement Thursday morning, a part of the second phase of its three-year curriculum change. Students will now only write one math and one English exam; the social studies, science, grade 10 language arts exams will be graded at the local school level.

With students not spending time cramming for these exams, Ministry Mike Bernier says teachers can now focus on immediate needs.

“It’s more of looking at the skills sets that they have in the classroom, teachers are able to be more flexible with the curriculum on how they’re not only teaching but with the opportunities for children to be broader in what they’re doing in the classroom,” he says.

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The British Columbia Teacher’s Federation says it’s “generally supportive of graduation changes.” It a statement, BCTF President Jim Iker says getting rid of provincial exams is a welcome move that’s been recommended for years.

“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.”

Iker still has concerns about short timelines and funding, both of which the BCTF feels could affect students success moving forward.

“In order to successfully implement the revised curriculum, teachers need more time, in-service training, and funding for the necessary resources,” said Iker. “If the government wants this top-to-bottom shift of the curriculum to work, they need to come up with some new funding. Another significant concern is the implementation timeline. System-wide changes cannot be rushed through. We have never seen a province change the entire curriculum at the same time and treat it like a light switch that just flips on. There must be more realistic timelines and a meaningful monetary commitment behind these changes.”

Also a part of the Ministry’s second phase, it will look for new and more efficient ways to communicate with parents. It’s also adding a new “Career Education” course starting September 2017, which will help make links between the classroom and the outside world.

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