General Information Bulletin and schedule

The General Information Bulletin contains specific directives, guidelines and procedures of the Diploma Examination Program.

2018/2019 diploma exam schedule (PDF, 109 KB)

Using Technology to Administer Provincial Achievement Tests and Diploma Exams (PDF, 1.0 MB)

Universal supports Q and A document (PDF, 201 KB)

Forms

The following forms are used for the administration of diploma exams and field tests:

Diploma exam registration, rewrite, and rescore forms

Special Writing Centre forms – course delivery within Alberta

Special Writing Centre forms – distance delivery outside Alberta

Examinee appeal forms

Accommodations and special format forms

Additional forms

Provincial results and participation

Diploma exam results are available as PDFs for individual schools and for each school authority in Alberta. Use the school authority database to find 5-year reports for each writing period, as well as participation rates for each school and authority. You can use the search tool, or select a category (public, separate, etc.) and then select an authority and school.

Diploma exam results

Diploma exam participation

Diploma exam results, participation rate, and guidelines

2017 to 2018 school year highlights

As with previous years' results, the strengths and areas for improvement have varied this year and are only one indication of student abilities.

Alberta high school students performed well on diploma exams, most notably in the sciences at the high school level (Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Science).

Performance in other core subjects at the high school level varied within the expected range.

Across many subjects and grades, students have continued to perform well. As always, there is fluctuation in results but few substantive trends.

The percentage of students reaching the acceptable standard is at 5-year highs in English Language Arts 6, Français 6, Science 6, Social Studies 6, and Science 9.

Grade 6 Math results increased year-over-year, with students performing significantly better on non-calculator questions in 2018 than in 2017, which was the first year non-calculator questions were included in the test.

Performance on the Grade 6 Math problem solving questions also improved from the previous year. There is a strong correlation of results on the non-calculator questions and problem solving questions.

Provincial Standards

Consistent standards

Government's goal is to ensure fairness for all students, no matter when they write a diploma exam.

We use a process called 'equating' to maintain consistent standards and help make the exams as fair as possible.

By maintaining consistent standards through equating, government can more accurately report changes in student diploma exam results from one exam to the next, and from one year to the next. This also makes it possible to more accurately report how students performed, no matter which exam they wrote.

This practice started in 2003 for the diploma exam program, and it is currently used on almost all diploma exams. Similar approaches for maintaining consistent standards are used in the Provincial Achievement Testing Program (PATs)  as well as in many national and international tests.

Anchor items

Anchor items are questions that appear in more than one diploma exam. They are a mini-version of the exam and they represent the whole program of studies for the subject.

By making at least 20% of questions on an exam the same as those on a previous exam, we can determine if the student population writing one exam differs in achievement from the student population writing another exam.

These anchor items can also be used to determine if one exam is harder or easier compared to another exam. This process then lets government remove the variation in student scores caused by differences in difficulty from one exam to the next. In other words, a mark of 80% on one diploma exam means the same as a mark of 80% on another diploma exam in the same subject.

How equating works

Equating – step 1

Student performance on the anchor items is compared between 2 diploma exams. Since the anchor items are identical between 2 diploma exams, differences in performance tells us whether the current group of students is, on average, stronger, weaker or the same as the previous group, in terms of their abilities.

Equating – step 2

Based on what is found from step 1, student performance on the unique (non-anchor) items is compared between the 2 exams. In this way the relative difficulties of the 2 exams are compared.

For example, if the average student performance for the current group is close to the previous group on anchor items but the current group's performance is lower on the unique items, we would know that, while the 2 groups have similar abilities, the unique items are more difficult for the current group.

Equating – step 3

Based on the comparisons in steps 1 and 2, a statistical method called equating is used to adjust the student's results so that the variation in difficulty among exams does not affect their exam mark.

Adjustments to a student's score may be up or down, depending on the relative difficulty of the exam. The degree of adjustment for each score point also varies.

The equating process is designed to remove the variation in exam difficulty as a variable when assessing a student's knowledge and ability. This process is meant to ensure fairness for all students, over time.

This effort to ensure fairness for students means that not all diploma exam questions can be released to the public immediately after the exam. This is to ensure students do not see anchor questions prior to writing an exam, potentially gaining an advantage over other students.

We release as many diploma exam questions as possible online each year.

Comparing results over time

Diploma exams are designed to match a program of studies for a particular subject, and this design does not change until the program of studies is changed. Once the examinations from all administrations in a given school year are equated, results on the multiyear reports will be directly comparable over time.

If the program of study is substantially changed, a new exam will be developed. Provincial standards will be reset and confirmed by a standard-setting committee of about 20 teachers selected from across the province.

This process may be done multiple times in the first few years until the new exam stabilizes. During that period of time, any direct comparison of student scores from administration to administration should not be done, and trend analysis is not appropriate and valid.

Contact

To connect with Deanna Shostak, Director, Diploma Programs:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-422-5160
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: deanna.shostak@gov.ab.ca

To connect with Pascal Couture, Director, Exam Administration:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-643-9157
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Email: pascal.couture@gov.ab.ca