Niagara school boards cancel usual exam process

·2 min read

Students in Niagara are not writing exams to close out courses this fall.

District School Board of Niagara’s secondary school students and Niagara Catholic board students will all be taking part in “culminating activities” instead of the usual sit-down testing regime.

Helen McGregor, superintendent of secondary school curriculum and student achievement, said, “Students are learning differently this year, with many learning in-person for part of the week, and others learning exclusively online.

“To ensure all our students are supported to find success this year, whether they are learning in-person or online, in October we made the decision to cancel exams,” said McGregor. “Schools have already let students know that they will not have exams and, instead, they will have culminating activities.”

Niagara Catholic District School Board is following a similar path.

“Schools are not administering exams,” said superintendent Ted Farrell, whose responsibilities include overseeing secondary schools.

“Upon completion of the course, a broad range of culminating activities will be used as part of the final evaluation in determining a student’s mark. These activities may include essays, student performances, independent study projects or other suitable activities for students to best demonstrate their learning.”

In October, the Ministry of Education told school boards they have the option to remove designated exam days from their school year calendar and use them for in-class instructional time.

Education Minister Stephen Lecce has said the use of essays or report-based assessments in the place of final exams should be allowed “given the circumstance.”

“I don’t want to increase the anxiety of our students. An essay, an extended report, these are all ways in which an educator can credibly assess the performance of a student.”

The holiday break for students is to begin Dec. 21 and will last until students return to the classroom on Jan. 4.

Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email:

Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review