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Pupils’ Provincial Pains

5 February 2023
Emma W, Alexandra ‘23
Every January, the Foote Centre gymnasium is turned into an exam room so that more than half the Brentwood student body can sit down and take their provincial assessments.

In order to obtain the Dogwood Diploma, all students in BC are required to take the Grade 10 Literacy and Numeracy Assessments, as well as the Grade 12 Literacy Assessment. These exams assess students based on the core competencies – Communication, Thinking, and Personal and Social Responsibility – and are a means for the government to measure the success of the BC education system.

The exams on Literacy were delivered in an entirely digital format. Both Literacy Assessments included a variety of texts, such as infographics and news articles, and were divided into parts A and B, with part A mainly consisting of multiple choice questions, with a short written response section at the end.

Part B was more holistic, as it allowed students to choose one of two “pathways” for their written response so that they could tailor the exam to their own personal strengths.

Head of the English Department, Mr Paul Collis, said that, when compared with the trauma-inducing provincial exams of years past (which counted for 40% of students’ final grades), the new Literacy Assessment was nothing.

However, Mr Collis claims that as a result of the changes the ministry has made, the “pendulum has swung” in the other direction – to an assessment that he describes as “the friendliest of exhibition games”.

When compared with other exams – such as the SAT – it is evident that the Ministry of Education in BC has tried to avoid standardizing their provincial assessments (although this trivializes the entire purpose of the assessment). But is that really possible when the same test is being administered to every single student across the province? Arguably, with all the changes the school system has undergone, provincial assessments are simply an echo of an old, institutionalized education system.

The exam was a literal pain – Samantha D, Alexandra ‘23 claimed, “My eyes hurt from staring at a screen for two hours, and I had a massive headache for the whole exam!”

What’s more, although provincial exams may give the ministry some helpful statistics, these exams offer no noticeable benefit for students taking them, since at best they just seem like another hoop to jump through in order to graduate. As soon as she finished the exam, Mackenzie ‘23 Ava H’s first question was, “Does this go on my transcript?”.

As frustrating as it may have been, the assessments went by without a hitch, and the teachers who administered them were incredibly organized and helpful (props to Ms Murtland!). Until next year, writing pathways and infographic organizers… you won’t be missed.

Emma W, Alexandra ‘23

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