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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.

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$5.3 million worth of cocaine seized at Coutts. 25 year old Calgary man arrested

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News release from the Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET)

Integrated Border Enforcement Team lays charges for drug importation

Coutts, Alta. – The Integrated Border Enforcement Team (IBET), a joint force operation between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Calgary Police Service (CPS), has charged a man for importing cocaine into Canada.

On Nov. 21, 2022, CBSA officers discovered and seized 53 kg of cocaine following a secondary examination of a commercial transport vehicle at the Coutts border crossing. The drugs, which has a street value of approximately $5.3 million, were hidden within a shipment of produce and have been referred over to IBET for further investigation.

On Nov. 22, 2022, Jagroop Singh, 25, a resident of Calgary, was charged with the following offences:

  • Importation of a Controlled Substance contrary to section 6(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; and,
  • Possession of a Controlled Substance for the Purpose of Trafficking contrary to section 5(2) of theControlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Singh is scheduled to appear in Lethbridge Provincial Court on Nov. 29, 2022.

“I cannot overstate the contributions of each law enforcement partner represented in IBET. Together, we successfully prevented harmful drugs from entering Canada and harming our communities.”

–       Supt. Sean Boser, OIC of Federal Policing – Calgary

“The safety and security of Canadians is our government’s top priority. By stopping illegal drugs at the border, we’re keeping our communities safe. This seizure is another great example of the ongoing cooperation between the CBSA, the RCMP and the Calgary Police Service in securing our borders.”

–       Brad Wozny, Regional Director General, Canada Border Services Agency

“Anytime a significant seizure like this is taken off our streets is a win for the communities we all work in partnership to protect.”

–       Acting Supt. Melanie Oncescu, CPS Criminal Operations and Intelligence

IBET’s mandate is to enhance border integrity and security along the shared border, between designated ports of entry, by identifying, investigating and interdicting persons, organizations and goods that are involved in criminal activities.

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Alberta bans masking mandates in schools, guarantees in-person learning

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Edmonton – The Alberta government says school boards can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

In a release, the government says it has made regulatory changes that guarantee students have access to in-person learning.

The changes also say that students cannot be denied in-person education by school authorities due to their personal decision to wear or not wear a mask.

Last week, the Edmonton public school board asked Alberta Health and Alberta Education whether it can require masks as schools deal with a wave of viral illnesses that is sending thousands of students home sick and straining hospitals.

Premier Danielle Smith says the changes go into effect immediately and will create an inclusive environment by ensuring personal and family choices are respected.

Smith has been critical of mask rules in schools, saying they have adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Parents and students have told me time and time again that they want a normal school environment for their kids,” Smith said in a release Thursday. “We have taken steps to protect and enhance educational choice.

“Families are free to make their own personal health decisions, and, no matter what that decision is, it will be supported by Alberta’s education system.”

The government said the in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said the changes show the government doesn’t have a clue about what’s happening in Alberta schools.

“We know that respiratory illness outbreaks have been widespread this fall, causing intense stress and increased challenges for students, staff, and families,” Hoffman said in a release.

“School districts are struggling to staff classrooms as illness moves through students and employees.”

Hoffman said it is unrealistic to expect that school districts can staff in-person and online classes simultaneously with no additional resources.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2022

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