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Late changes to Quebec's high school ministry exams raises concerns

High school classroom. (Source: Jeswin Thomas/Pexels) High school classroom. (Source: Jeswin Thomas/Pexels)

Some High School teachers and parents are reacting with dismay to the education minister's late announcement that there will be changes to the curriculum this year.

On Tuesday, Bernard Drainville said that the annual ministry exams taken by grade 10 and 11 students will make up half of their grade once again, causing much concern.

During the pandemic ministry exams accounted for 20 per cent of a student's grade and so some teachers say this raises the stakes.

Westmount High School teacher Robert Green said there wasn't enough consultation with staff and students. A test that is worth 50 per cent instead of a "reasonable" 20 per cent, as it was during the pandemic said Green, will increase a student's anxiety.

He said a 20 per cent value still has an impact on their overall mark but "...if they happen to be having a bad day that day or there happens to be a lawnmower outside the window, as frequently happens during exam time, their whole year isn't going to be jeopardized because of their performance on that one test," Green said.

The longtime teacher also said the exam doesn't necessarily reflect the student's understanding of the class material and will place extra pressure on teachers because they will have to alter the way they teach material throughout the year to be able to make time for exam preparation.

The English Parents Committee was also surprised to hear about the sudden switch back to past practices and expect parents will face pressure of a different kind.

"I think the way it was announced also, right when school's about to start, the day before, (when) parents are focused on other things – I just don't understand why now, why this at the last minute," said committee member, Katherine Korakakis.

She suspects that some parents will have to hire tutors to help support their children, which is a large expense that can be hard to afford.


Bernard Drainville explained the change to exam grading by saying it was about maintaining standards.

"The pandemic is over, so my objective was to return to normal as quickly as possible, to resume learning the programs in their entirety, because we don't want to lower standards," he explained at the opening of a new school in Saint-Lucien near Drummondville.

He acknowledged that it would be a transition for students but said he was confident it would go well.

"We don't want to send a signal that the ministry's examination is less important now than it was before the pandemic, Drainville said, adding this message for students and teachers: "Prepare well."

With files from The Canadian Press Top Stories

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