EDITORIAL: Education changes are positive

Only two required provincial exams for high school students in B.C.

Students entering high school soon likely rejoiced last week upon hearing the number of provincial exams they’ll be required to take in upcoming years will drop from five to two.

The move is one of the latest changes in an overhaul of the public education system that aims to better prepare students for future endeavours, whether that be secondary school, post-secondary or the working world.

Does the average parent know how the provincial exams differ from those crafted by high school teachers for their classes? Not likely. What parents will wonder, however, is whether the move is going to succeed in getting their children ready for the next stage of life.

Education Minister Mike Bernier didn’t try to boast that moving from the current five specific course-based provincial tests to two broad-based exams focusing on math skills and literacy would solve all the woes of the system. Rather, he admitted there is still work to be done to ensure more students learn the basic skills they’ll need down the road.

The B.C. Teachers Federation, which helped craft the changes, has long called for an end to provincial exams, arguing that teachers who work with students for an entire term are better suited to test their abilities and skill levels.

We agree. Making a year-end exam that may or may not contain material covered during the span of the course worth a significant chunk of a student’s mark doesn’t make sense to us.

The Minister said the changes, which include amalgamating the Planning 10 and Grad Transition Plan courses into one called Career Education, will allow students to “explore their passion” more. If that means not being forced to take classes they may not be interested in just to graduate, then we’re all for it.

If young people develop more of a passion for learning, we hope the teachers’ passion is energized as well. Allowing them to teach course material in a way that inspires students and keeps educators enthusiastic, while better preparing our young people for their future, is a good long-term plan.

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