Manitoba government revises provincial exam system to better prepare students

The Manitoba government has revised its provincial exam system to better prepare students. This means it is pumping the brakes on some of its exams next year.

Minister of Education Nello Altomare says the move aims to reassess its current testing practices for grades 10 and 12.

“The reason we are doing this is that it’s been 20 years since we looked at how we are going to assess our kids and it’s time to relook at that,” Altomare said.

The government plans to create a new assessment regime, Altomare added. “What we are going to do is we are going to shift the timing of the exams so that it can inform instruction and provide the support that kids need. That’s going to be one of the changes you’re going to see. And we are moving to an online environment on the exam.”

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The move to pause the current format of province-wide standardized assessments is welcomed by Louis Riel School Division superintendent Christian Michalik.

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“That’s important, to have a dialogue about wanting to understand how learning is involving, how we are doing in schools,” said Michalik.

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However, he says he questions if standardized testing is truly the best opportunity for students to demonstrate what they know. “Finding the best ways for that to express itself is what matters most.”

Meanwhile, University of Winnipeg Professor Anna Stokke says it is still important the province collects data to ensure students are learning.

“Standardized tests are an important part of any system. It’s an efficient, effective, and reliable way to test knowledge,” she said, adding that the tests help educators to know if their teaching methods are effective.

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But for Altomare, it is about getting the province back to the fundamental goal of preparing students for life past high school.

“By moving to an online environment, by shifting the timing of the exams, we are going to help kids be prepared for what they are going to face, whatever they are going to do,” he said.

— with files from Global’s Teagan Rasche

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