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Diploma exams set to 20% for 2022-23 school year

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As students continue to address pandemic-related learning challenges, diploma exam weighting will be reduced to 20 per cent this school year.

Over the course of the pandemic, the government has responded to feedback from education system partners and made adjustments to the administration of diploma exams as required.

In response to feedback from students, parents and education partners about learning loss and well-being issues as a result of the pandemic, the government is taking a measured approach in transitioning the weighting of diploma exams over time. The weighting will return to 30 per cent in the 2023-24 school year.

“Since June of this year, I have met with over 40 public, separate and francophone school authorities and many other stakeholders and listened to their perspectives. Changing the weight of diploma exams will reduce the burden on students while still giving them valuable exam writing experience. We’re making this temporary change to place less of a burden on students and improve their mental health.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

Diploma exams are key to maintaining fairness and high standards for all students, no matter where they learn in Alberta. However, the government also recognizes the unprecedented challenges students faced in the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years.

While Alberta’s government previously announced new literacy and numeracy assessments to support students in grades 1-3 who are struggling, the government also recognizes that senior high students are facing post-pandemic challenges, and the change in diploma exam weighting will benefit those students directly.

This decision also reflects the learnings from the Child and Youth Well-Being Panel Report and the recent findings in an Alberta School Councils Association survey of parents, which both recognized the learning loss students have experienced.

“The CASS board of directors supports the ministry’s transitional approach to returning diploma exam weighting to pre-pandemic levels. This decision is reflective of a recommendation an ad hoc committee of CASS made during the pandemic and takes a balanced approach between a return to normal and meeting the social and emotional needs of students.

Scott Morrison, president, College of Alberta School Superintendents

“The pandemic impacted all students and their learning in many complex ways, requiring a variety of additional supports to ensure their success. The minister’s acknowledgement of this, and the desire to reduce the mental health burden on students required to write diploma exams this year, is also important to their success. The Alberta School Councils’ Association (ASCA) appreciates the recognition that a transitional return to traditional diploma exam weighting will help to improve students’ mental health while giving them valuable exam writing experience.”

Brandi Rai, president, Alberta School Councils’ Association

“ASBA is pleased that the government has reviewed high school diploma exam weighting as boards continue to focus on addressing student learning and mental health challenges. This will assist in relieving additional pressures while boards prioritize success of all students.”

Marilyn Dennis, president, Alberta School Boards Association

Quick facts

  • Diploma exams are normally administered in November, January, April, June and August.
  • In 2015, the government reduced diploma exam weighting from 50 to 30 per cent, giving greater value to course work through the year and each teacher’s ability to assess a broad range of student knowledge and skills.
  • In spring 2020, diploma exams were cancelled in April and June because students were learning from home for the last few months of the school year. They were successfully administered in August of that year.
  • During the 2020-21 school year, all diploma exams were optional.
  • For the 2021-22 school year, the government cancelled January diploma exams, and all remaining diploma exams for the year were weighted at 10 per cent.
  • Alberta Education works with experienced teachers to develop diploma exams. The government publishes various resources, including previous diploma exam questions and guides, for students. These resources are available on alberta.ca.

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Provinces should be cautious about cost-sharing agreements with Ottawa

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From the Fraser Institute

By Tegan Hill and Jake Fuss

According to Premier Danielle Smith, Alberta will withdraw from the federal government’s dental care plan by 2026 mainly because the plan would duplicate coverage already provided to many Albertans (although she plans to negotiate unconditional funding in lieu of being in the program). Indeed, all provinces should be wary of entering into such agreements as history has shown that Ottawa can reduce or eliminate funding at any time, leaving the provinces holding the bag.

In the 1990s, for instance, the federal government reduced health and social transfers to the provinces amid a fiscal crisis fuelled by decades of unrestrained spending and persistent deficits (and worsened by high interest rates). Gross federal debt increased from $38.9 billion in 1970/71 to $615.9 billion in 1993/94, at which point debt interest costs consumed roughly $1 in every $3 of federal government revenue.

In response to this debt crisis, the Chrétien Liberal government reduced spending across nearly all federal departments and programs. Over a three-year period to 1996/97, health and social transfers to the provinces were 51 per cent ($41.0 billion) less than what the provinces expected based on previous transfers. In other words, the provinces suddenly got a lot less money from Ottawa than they anticipated.

This should serve as a warning for the provinces who may find themselves on the hook for Ottawa’s big spending today. In the case of dental care, an area of provincial jurisdiction, the Trudeau government has earmarked $4.4 billion  annually for the provinces on an ongoing basis. However, any change in federal priorities or federal finances could swing the financial burden from Ottawa to the provinces to maintain the program.

The current state of federal finances only heightens this risk to the provinces. The federal government has run uninterrupted budget deficits since 2007/08, with total federal debt climbing from $707.3 billion in 2007/08 to a projected $2.1 trillion in 2024/25. The current government—or perhaps a future reform-minded government focused on balancing the budget—could reduce transfers to the provinces.

The Trudeau government has committed to significant new funding in areas of provincial jurisdiction, but provincial policymakers would do well to understand the risks of entering into such agreements. Ottawa can unilaterally reduce or eliminate funding at any point, leaving provinces to either assume the unexpected financial burden through higher taxes or additional borrowing, or curtail the programs.

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Just in time for Canada Day weekend! Crescent Falls ready to be enjoyed again

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The new staircase structure and viewing platform are among many upgrades that visitors can look forward to at the reopening Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area. (Credit: Alberta Parks).

The popular Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area reopens following a significant capital investment to improve visitor safety and experiences.

Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area is ready to welcome visitors back to enjoy one of the most remarkable, accessible waterfall viewing opportunities in Alberta. The upgrades at Crescent Falls will help improve the park’s visitor experience. Guests can expect expanded parking, improved access roads, trails and day use areas, new and improved viewing areas to take in the falls and upgraded safety measures, including signage and wayfinding.

The Provincial Recreation Area (PRA) is reopening over the July long weekend after being closed since 2023. Visitors will notice increased public safety upgrades through additions such as new parking lots, a new stair structure to access the lower falls, new pedestrian trails, a new vehicle bridge to access the camping area and a viewing platform to enjoy the Crescent Falls.

“We are thrilled to welcome visitors back to Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area in time for the Canada Day long weekend. These additions will help visitors to safely access and enjoy the area’s natural beauty. Parks are for people and Alberta’s government will continue to invest in high-quality outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Todd Loewen, Minister of Forestry and Parks

“Today marks a significant milestone for our community as we reopen the Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area following extensive upgrades. Our province is well known for its incredible natural beauty, and these improvements will make our backcountry more accessible and ensure that Albertans and those visiting our great province can continue to explore our stunning landscapes for years to come.”

Jason Nixon, MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre
This project is part of an investment of more than $12 million to upgrade 13 sites along the David Thompson Corridor. The improvements at Crescent Falls will provide improved safety measures and better visitor access to and from popular tourist destinations in the area. Partners from Clearwater County, Rocky Mountain House and other organizations were critical in helping to move the upgrades forward. Clearwater County and its officials worked with Alberta Parks staff to advise on the upgrades needed around the area.

Alberta’s government is committed to reconciliation and acknowledges the significance of the land around Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area to the Stoney Nakoda First Nation. The completed upgrades reflect an ongoing commitment to creating more outdoor recreation opportunities while protecting the land’s natural and cultural values so it can be enjoyed by current and future generations.

“The Alberta Government’s reopening of Crescent Falls is a remarkable achievement for our region. This project not only enhances recreational opportunities, natural beauty and accessibility in our area but also means safer, more enjoyable visits for our citizens and visitors alike.”

Michelle Swanson, councillor, Clearwater County

“The Town of Rocky Mountain House is where adventure begins, and we are thrilled that Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area has reopened to the public in time for the summer adventure season. This is a wonderful day trip destination for visitors and residents alike setting out from Rocky Mountain House. The provincial investment has only improved its accessibility and safety, making it a must-see destination if you are in the area.”

Dale Shippelt, incoming deputy mayor, Rocky Mountain House

“Westward Bound Campgrounds is the proud facility operator of the Crescent Falls Provincial Recreation Area and we are very excited to see our campers and visitors return to its beauty. These upgrades will have a significant impact on enhancing guest satisfaction levels, providing unique and memorable camper and visitor experiences while providing a safe environment to enjoy spectacular scenery.”

Lonnie and Edena Earl, Westward Bound Campgrounds

This work is part of an ongoing commitment to creating more outdoor recreation and camping opportunities, building trails and facilities and ensuring Alberta’s provincial parks can be enjoyed by all Albertans.

Quick facts

  • The upgrades at Crescent Falls PRA include the following improvements:
    • Enlarging the existing parking area
    • Developing a new parking area for large RV vehicles
    • Upgrading the access roads down to the lower area
    • Installing a new pedestrian trail to the lower day use area
    • Installing a new vehicle crossing from the day use to the camping site
    • Upgrading and expanding the day use areas
    • Increasing signage
    • Installing additional toilets and bear-proof garbage bins
    • Developing a new stair structure to access the lower falls areas with a viewing platform
  • Enhancing safety features throughout the PRA. The upgrades were part of a significant capital investment of $12.3 million by Alberta’s government to address safety and experience opportunities in 13 key provincial recreation sites along the David Thompson Corridor. Along with Crescent Falls PRA, other sites that were upgraded include:
    • Bighorn Dam Recreation Area
    • The following 11 Public lands and parks sites:
    • Coliseum
    • Allstone
    • Abraham Slabs
    • Hoo Doo Creek
    • Coral Creek
    • Pinto Creek
    • Preachers Point
    • Cavalcade
    • Kinglet/Tuff Puff
    • Wildhorse
    • Owen Creek
  • Crescent Falls PRA is located 22 km west of Nordegg on Highway 11 and 6 km north on a gravel access road. Crescent Falls PRA has a first-come, first-served campground with 12 tent-only sites and 22 RV sites. The day use area includes multiple viewing platforms of the upper and lower falls and picnic tables with views of the river. Access to the lower day use area is available on a 0.8 km trail from the main parking area or, alternatively, from the Bighorn Canyon lookout via a 3 km trail. The lower day use area also has accessible-only parking stalls adjacent to the viewing platforms with an accessible vault toilet and picnic areas.

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