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June 2021 public exams cancelled for students

March 03, 2021

Original Article:

Students in the Newfoundland and Labrador K-12 system won't be writing public exams at all this year, as the education minister announced the department will be cancelling end-of-the-year tests in June 2021.

Minister Tom Osborne said the decision was made in consultation with school councils, educators, administrators, and some working in the post-secondary system.

"It's as a result of the time students lost — two and a half months last year — the fact that we're still in the pandemic, and to give educators and students the stability of knowing that they don't have to focus on public exams," said Osborne.

Exams for the end of the fall semester were cancelled back on Sept. 1, in keeping with what schools in the other Atlantic provinces announced.

Osborne at the time said June exams were still on the table. But on Friday, Osborne said their cancellation is a decision that's been in the works for a while.

"Speaking with educators and school councils and administrators and so on, the decision we're making today we believe is in the best interests of our students."

The provincial NDP have been pushing for exams to be cancelled in the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

In October, NDP MHA Jim Dinn, a former high school principal and president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, called public exams "stressful in the best of times," and demanded just last month the provincial government make a decision before it's too late.

At that time, Osborne said he wasn't going to rush the issue, and expected to make a decision in January.

"We wanted to take time to measure the level of progress of students and whether or not they were able to make up that two and a half months," he said.

Osborne said his department will use the time to look at the value of public exams in normal, non-pandemic circumstances.

"I know in the mid-1990s, public exams were cancelled, and our post-secondary institutions here in the province at that particular time expressed some concern that our students were ill prepared going into our post-secondary institutions, so the decision was made in 2000 to reinstitute public exams," Osborne said.

"I know some of the other provinces don't have them, but whether or not it'll be public exams or some other ... form of standardized measurement throughout the province, we do need to ensure that students … have a standardized level of learning and education, so we need to have a good look at this going forward."


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