It’s been a school year unlike any other in recent memory.
And now, another major change for students. Exams have been cancelled in various school boards across the province.
“It’s great — I don’t have to worry about exams anymore, I don’t have to be stressed,” says A.J. Lounds, a student at O’Neill Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Oshawa.
The school is part of the Durham District School Board, one of many boards that have chosen to omit final exams for the semester. The move comes after a memo was sent out earlier this month by Ontario’s Ministry of Education giving school boards the option of giving teachers a different way of evaluating their students.
“I think this year is stressful enough without having that added onto it,” says Lorissa Johnson-Kalk, whose daughter is in Grade 10 at O’Neill.
“Basing their grades on assignment and work they’ve done throughout the quadmester is a better indicator of what they have learned,” she said, while waiting for her daughter outside the school.
Her daughter Elora agrees, adding that she doesn’t understand how exams benefit students in the first place.
“It’s not showing what we know,” said Elora Kalk.
“It’s showing how much we can memorize in a short amount of time. Every person I talk to hates them,” she says.
Elora is among the students saying that with virtual learning and a compressed workload, the amount of schoolwork is already above average and the experience has been daunting.
“We’ve been getting so much work normally and half my friends have been breaking down every night. It’s just like, yeah, it’s stressful.”
The Ministry of Education says there is a need for flexibility in determining students’ grades.
“It is fundamentally in the students’ best interest to maximize instructional time and provide a diversity of assessment opportunities,” the ministry told Global News in a statement.
Now students’ final marks will be based on their course work throughout the semester.
While it’s unconventional, some teachers agree with the change under the current circumstances.
“The fact that they will have more opportunities to submit a variety of work will make it a lot more manageable for them,” says Sally Panavas, a virtual teacher with the Toronto District School Board.
However, support for the new model is not unanimous.
Some students say regardless of exams, this year has proven more difficult than years past.
“It feels like more work than it normally would,” says Madisen Forgie, a student at O’Neill. “It doesn’t feel like it’s making that much of a difference.”
Durham Catholic School Board is also making the change along with several others across the GTA.