NDP wants June public exams cancelled now, but education minister says he won't rush a decision

·3 min read
Mark Quinn/CBC
Mark Quinn/CBC

Education Minister Tom Osborne says he is not ready to cancel public exams for students in June, despite the NDP saying the decision should be made now.

"I'm doing proper review of what's in the best interests of our high school students, and whether or not it is in their best interest to cancel public exams," Osborne said.

"I am very open-minded about it, we have cancelled public [exams] for January. What we're talking about now is the June public exams, so there's lots of time."

NDP MHA Jim Dinn, a former high school and president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association, raised in the issue during question period this week in the House of Assembly.

He called public exams "stressful in the best of times," and demanded government make a decision before it's too late.

"I asked for a plan in June. We're two weeks before September and they were scrambling to get it done. We're two months into the school year right now, basically 20 per cent of the school year. Make the decision."

Mark Quinn/CBC
Mark Quinn/CBC

Dinn added teachers should be trusted in their abilities, and that adequate evaluation would still take place if public exams were cancelled.

Not rushing a decision, says Osborne

Osborne said an update on the status of June public exams is likely to be made in early January, which he says will give parents, students, and staff several months of preparation.

"But I'm not going to rush into a decision," he said.

"Mr. Dinn wanted us to delay the opening of school, which parents that we spoke with and consulted with were absolutely not in favour of that. He wanted to do split classes…and we didn't rush into that. Any decisions we make will be made in the best interests of the children."

Osborne said consultations will take place with the NLTA, along with the English and French school districts, and he will be checking in over the coming months to make sure students are on track.

"There's a lot of time for students to make up, which is why we cancelled public exams for January," he said. "Whether or not they can make that time up for June, that's something that we need to evaluate…We're not going to have students at a disadvantage in June."

Shelve report cards for now: Dinn

Dinn also said government should act to term 1 report cards for primary and elementary students this year — citing the large amount of work that goes into report cards on top of this year's challenges.

"Leave teachers to figure out themselves how are they going to evaluate," he said. "They will find a way to evaluate and give parents what they need."

"We're not saying get rid of [them] all, but term 1, give teachers this opportunity, and students and parents, to climatize to this school year and get into a routine."

On the issue of report cards, Osborne said there must be a form of evaluation in place for primary and elementary students — but is open to suggestions.

"It's the first time the issues been raised in the legislature today, so I'm not going to say 'No, we won't look at it.' We will look at it, and if it makes sense, we'll make changes," he said.

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