Hamilton’s public school board has announced that exams for secondary students have been cancelled for the 2020-2021 school year.
In a letter to students and families sent Tuesday night (Nov. 17), the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) said students in grades nine to 12 will have their grades based on ‘specific learning activities and assignments’ throughout the year.
“In mid-October, the Ministry of Education gave Ontario school boards the ability to adjust secondary evaluation processes to reflect the realities of learning and attending school during the uncertainties of a pandemic,” the letter, signed by HWDSB’s director of education, Manny Figueiredo.
“After much consideration, and after hearing feedback from our families, students and staff, we have decided to cancel final exams for all secondary students (Grades 9-12) in both semesters of the 2020-2021 school year.”
The letter said it will be up to teachers to decide the appropriate activities to reflect a student’s learning and the scheduled exam days will be used for ‘additional opportunities for students to complete assignments.’
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The board also announced that the requirements for this schoolyear’s graduating students have been altered to reflect the demands of a global pandemic.
Traditionally, Grade 12 students are expected to have completed a total of 40 hours of community involvement, but the board has decided to reduce that to 20 hours.
“This change reflects that graduating students may have met barriers in earning the 40-hour requirement for community involvement hours during the last school year, and there may continue to be such barriers this school year,” the letter said.
“Any student having difficulty earning the 20-hour requirement should contact their school Principal or guidance office to explore the range of options that can be made available.”
Students expecting to graduate in 2021 will also not have to complete the Grade 10 Literacy Test, which will still be administered in the Spring of 2021 for students in younger grades expecting to graduate in years to come.
While exams have been cancelled, Grade 9 students will still be expected to take the EQAO math test.
“Grade 9 students will take the EQAO math test, as this year, EQAO is testing a new format,” the letter said.
“Therefore, the results won’t be used as part of a student’s final course mark in math unless the student and teacher agree.”