On Friday, May 24th the Department of Education reached out to school divisions across Manitoba with news it was suspending the grade 12 English Language Arts Standards exam for the following week.
As a longtime educator, Garden Valley School Division (GVSD) Superintendent Dan Ward says he's never encountered a scenario like this.

"I've never experienced this before, and I used to teach English Language Arts 40S, and I administered the Standards test, so it was definitely a curveball for the school division, but more importantly for the teachers and the students."

On May 27th they received further word from the Province school divisions and schools were being asked to conduct a locally developed assessment. Ward says their teachers rose to the challenge.

"In very short order we got together the school administrators and discussed how this could be rolled out. They went back to their school-based teams, and they came up with a plan fairly quickly."

Ward says they felt the best approach forward was to have a school-based assessment at each of their high schools, Northlands Parkway Collegiate (NPC) and Garden Valley Collegiate (GVC). He said they were common assessments, but each assessment was different at each school.

"They were similar in that they are both three days long, done completely in class time. And they were similar in that both of the assessments drew from prior Standards tests the Province had administered."  

Ward said it was a meaningful assessment, and students got the genuine experience of taking the provincial exam, like their classmates would have written in January. 

Like in the past, Ward said these final assessments will be worth twenty percent. 

"But, in terms of actually reporting it separately to the province, we don't have any word if they're going to be collecting that data at this time, but it's still going to be worth 20% of the student's final mark in ELA 40S." 

The ELA 40S assessments were written last week at GVC and will be completed this week at NPC.