Course challenges are intended to:
- meet the diverse needs of students
- encourage students’ ownership of their learning
- acknowledge the learning that students acquire in a variety of settings, not necessarily limited to schools
The course challenge provision allows any student registered in senior high school to challenge the outcomes of a course by participating in a formal assessment process, rather than taking the course. This provision allows senior high school students who believe that they have acquired the knowledge, skills and attitudes as defined by the program of studies for a given course (and are ready to demonstrate that achievement) to participate in a summative assessment/evaluation process.
The course challenge process must assess a student’s achievement of the depth and breadth of the outcomes of the course. Assessment procedures for course challenges must include a variety of formats and strategies.
Assessment refers to the process of a student performing a number of tasks and showing samples of work that demonstrate the degree to which the student has achieved the expected standards for the outcomes of the course. The student’s performance and the quality of the student’s work are evaluated by a certificated teacher who has expertise in the subject/course in question.
Course refers to a course at any level in a course sequence.
Course sequence refers to a sequence of courses that together constitute a complete set of prerequisites (e.g., French Language Arts 10-1, 20-1, 30-1).
Summative evaluation refers to the final evaluation of learning outcomes.
Diploma Examination Courses
The course challenge provision applies to non-diploma examination courses and only to the school-awarded mark component of diploma examination courses. Students challenging a non-diploma course will be given a final course mark, and, if successful, credits in that course.
Credit in diploma examination courses can be achieved only through a combination of the school-awarded mark (70%) and the diploma examination mark (30%). Course challenge in diploma examination courses applies only to the school-awarded mark component of the course and, therefore, will not result in a final course mark or in credits until after the student successfully completes the diploma examination for that course.
Course Challenge for Languages
In the assessment process for a language course challenge, students need to perform a number of oral, written, listening and reading comprehension tasks as well as show samples of their work that demonstrate the expected knowledge, skills and attitudes for the course being challenged. Student performance and quality of work are to be evaluated by an Alberta certificated teacher who has expertise in the language course being challenged. In Alberta, only Francophone schools can offer course challenge and credit for any Français course.
Students who successfully challenge a language course will receive waived prerequisite credits for lower grade level courses in that sequence if they have not already received credits for lower grade level courses in that language. For more details, see the Waiver of Prerequisites section.
Français 10, 20 and 30 Level
Senior high school students whose parents have rights under section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and who are currently attending a school other than one administered by a Francophone regional authority, may challenge Français 10-1, 10-2, 20-1, 20-2, 30-1 or 30-2 by first registering with the nearest Francophone regional authority for the course. All other procedures as detailed in this section apply.
The course challenge provision applies only to students who believe they have the knowledge, skills and attitudes as defined by the program of studies for a given course.
Students are not permitted to challenge the following courses:
- Agriculture Safety (AGR3000)
- Career Internship 10
- courses in the post-secondary institution (PSI) occupational area
- English as a second language courses
- Green Certificate Program courses
- high school K&E occupational courses, including Workplace Readiness 10-4, Workplace Practicum 20-4 and Workplace Practicum 30-4
- locally developed courses, with the exception of locally developed language arts or language and culture courses
- Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) courses
- Special Projects 10, 20 and 30
- Work Experience 15, 25 and 35
- Workplace Safety Systems (HCS3000)
Any senior high school student in Alberta who believes that they possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes for a senior high school course as specified in the program of studies, and is ready to demonstrate that achievement through a formal, summative assessment process, may initiate a request for course challenge to their high school principal. For diploma examination courses, this applies only to the school-awarded mark component.
The student who initiates the course challenge process shall take responsibility for providing evidence of readiness to challenge a course (e.g., a portfolio, other collection, documentation of work and/or experience, a recommendation from a junior high school teacher).
A student may not initiate a course challenge for a course in a lower-level sequence if the student has been awarded credits in a course in a higher-level sequence. For example, a student who has earned credits for Science 30 may not challenge Science 24. High school mathematics course sequences are an exception, as they are designed based on content rather than level of difficulty. A student may challenge Mathematics 20-3 or Mathematics 20-2 after being awarded credits in Mathematics 20-1, as Mathematics 20-1 is not considered part of a higher-level course sequence in this instance. The same exception applies to 30-level mathematics courses.
A student who has been waived into a higher-level course in a sequence may challenge the lower-level course(s) in that sequence. For example, a student who is waived into Science 30 may challenge Science 20.
A student who challenges a course, either successfully or unsuccessfully, may subsequently choose to take the course.
High School Principal
Course challenges shall be administered by a senior high school according to its policy (in addition to school authority policy) only after the student is enrolled in senior high school.
A student’s readiness for course challenge shall be determined through consultation that includes the senior high school principal, the student, the parent(s) and the teacher of the course. The consultation shall include discussion of the student’s chance of successfully meeting the acceptable standard for the course and the student’s apparent capacity to successfully handle the course at the next level. For more information, see the Marks, Credits and Reporting section below.
The senior high school principal shall make the final decision about the student’s readiness for the course challenge. The principal shall base this decision on the consultation with the student, the parent(s) and the teacher of the course.
The senior high school principal shall assign the administration and evaluation of assessment for a course challenge to an Alberta certificated teacher who has expertise in the subject/course.1 Only a principal of a Francophone school in Alberta can award credit for Français courses.
The senior high school principal shall ensure that assessment for course challenges includes strategies that will assess the breadth and scope of the learning outcomes for the course, as outlined in the program of studies, in a timely and practical manner.
1 Heritage language schools should contact the High School Careers (K–12), Arts & Wellness, Languages and Locally Developed Courses Branch for guidelines in the administration of the course challenge provision. For contact information, see Appendix 1.
Marks, Credits and Reporting
The senior high school principal shall report a student’s achievement in a course challenge according to the requirements in Reporting Student Achievement in Senior High School Courses in the Student Assessment in Senior High School section.
A student who successfully demonstrates through the course challenge process that they possess the outcomes for the course to at least the acceptable standard, shall be awarded a final course mark and credits for the course challenged, except in diploma examination courses, which require the school-awarded mark to be blended with the diploma examination mark before a final course mark or credit is possible.
The percentage mark for the course challenge is to be reported in PASI.
The principal must ensure that the student challenging a course is aware that, upon the student’s successful completion of a course challenge, waived prerequisite credits and either a percentage mark or a “P” for pass are granted by the principal for courses lower in the course sequence. If a student wishes to receive a percentage mark on their Alberta Transcript of High School Achievement for prerequisite courses, the student must successfully challenge each individual course. In this situation, it is recommended that the student challenge the course sequence in sequential order (i.e., 10-level, then 20- and 30-levels respectively). Otherwise, upon a student’s successful completion of a course challenge, waived prerequisite credits and a “P” will be granted by the principal for courses lower in the course sequence.
For example, if a student wishes to challenge Spanish Language and Culture 30-3Y and also earn percentage marks for Spanish Language and Culture 10-3Y and Spanish Language and Culture 20-3Y, then the student should challenge the course sequence in sequential order. Otherwise, the student who only challenges Spanish Language and Culture 30-3Y will receive a “P” for Spanish Language and Culture 10-3Y and 20-3Y. For more information, see Waiver of Prerequisites.
If a student chooses to take the course in the same semester in which they attempt a course challenge, either successfully or unsuccessfully, the school shall submit both marks and the higher mark will appear on the student’s Alberta Transcript of High School Achievement.
A student shall attempt a particular course challenge only once. If the student is unsuccessful, but wants credit in the course or wishes to raise their mark, the student is required to take the course.
Each school authority shall have a policy that governs the administration of course challenges in the senior high schools under the jurisdiction of that authority.
Each school authority shall establish procedures to communicate to parents and students the availability of and procedures for course challenges.
A school authority shall make arrangements to provide appropriate course challenge assessments for the full range of senior high school courses offered by the school authority, except for those courses in the Exceptions section above.
A school authority may choose to accommodate requests to challenge courses not offered by the school authority by arranging with other school authorities for such challenges. A student who undertakes such a course challenge shall assume all expenses, other than those normally assumed by a school for assessment (e.g., personal transportation). A student wishing to challenge Français courses should be referred to a Francophone regional authority.
Consult the Funding Manual for School Authorities for funding information related to the course challenge provision.
Last updated: August 26, 2022