NO HARM CLAUSE and/or make finals optional in the Lethbridge School District #51

NO HARM CLAUSE and/or make finals optional in the Lethbridge School District #51

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Rebecca Ash started this petition to Lethbridge School Board of Trustees

While we appreciate the effort and time that was made to make the decision regarding the finals, and dropping the weight to 15%, we still believe this is not enough.  There was not enough parent input regarding this decision. We have seen that in other districts there have been multiple surveys that have gone out to gauge the general feelings from parents.  We are concerned that as parents we are being left out of the equation completely, which could be very detrimental to our students as we are best positioned to see most of the emotional, physical and mental stress that our children endure.
 
During this pandemic, Alberta Education made the decision that high school diploma exams were optional, and they gave each school districts the discretion to determine how best to make final assessments of high school students.  Many school districts in Alberta have cancelled finals, both last semester and this coming one as well.  Many school districts have based students’ grades on assignments and unit exams (not final exams).   Some school districts have given finals as an option but only counted the mark if it increased the student’s grade.  
 
It is important to remember that our students compete with students across the province for limited spots in University programs, most of which have highly competitive entrance requirements.  A drop of even 1% in high school grades for our students, while others in the province have no such risk, could risk our students losing their spot.  The potential benefit for our students is greatly outweighed by the potential risk. 
 
There are students that have worked hard through all of high school to be able to qualify for scholarships and even a small drop in their final mark could be the difference between qualifying for scholarships such as the Rutherford Scholarship.
 
We have received varying reasons for why the Lethbridge School District is continuing to require final exams to be worth 15% of a student’s mark.  One recently given was a desire to prepare these students for university.  We believe that a final exam does very little to prepare a student for university.  What we believe motivates a student for success in University is maturity, a true desire to attend University and the chance to be in a program they enjoy.  The Lethbridge School District’s decision to require 15% final assessments will do little, if anything, to prepare a student for University.  However, the District’s decision is more likely to be the factor that makes a student lose the opportunity or the desire for University.
 

Why are we making things harder on these students?  I have heard it said  that we need to teach the students that they need to deal with hard things and we can achieve this through final exams.  What is ignored by that statement is that our children have dealt with hard things, and continue to deal with hard things, all the time.  Why create more hurdles for them in the middle of this pandemic?  In the last 15 months they are struggling with added stress, an ever-changing learning environment, illness or loss of a family member, fear of the pandemic, fear of their future, and so many other issues.

Why won’t the School District consider reasonable ways to make this year less stressful on students?  There is absolutely no reasonable argument to keep the final exams weighted as high as they are, and there are many reasonable arguments to make final exams completely optional or with a no harm component. 

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