Graduating students from across British Columbia have been thrown into panic after a computer problem has forced the Ministry of Education to review the final marks it posted for Grade 12 English exams, prompting worries students could have their university acceptances revoked.
Grade 12 English is a required course for all postsecondary institutions and students must take a provincial exam as part of their final grade. The Ministry of Education confirmed Tuesday there is a problem with the exam results from June. The ministry blamed a systems error.
“There was an anomaly in the tabulation of the Grade 12 June exam results and a team of ministry staff are actively working to identify and resolve the issue,” Ministry of Education stated in an e-mail.
“The ministry is reviewing each June 2019 exam result to ensure student grades are accurately reflected on their transcripts.”
The ministry statement said it is “actively contacting” universities across the country and will work with international institutions “as needed.”
But the problem has prompted recent high school graduates to be concerned about whether their admissions to universities, scholarships and placements on varsity sports teams would be affected.
Helena Murray-Hill is a graduating student from Victoria. She said she was alerted to the problem by her teacher, who told her incomplete grades were being posted as final grades. But Ms. Murray-Hill hasn’t been able to find what her mark is because the system keeps crashing.
“I personally want to know what the heck is going on with my graduation,” she said in an interview.
Ms. Murray-Hill said her teacher told her of two students who had class grades of 94 per cent, but received marks of only 22 per cent on the exam.
For some students, she said, they are despondent over their failures.
“The ministry said nothing,” Ms. Murray-Hill said. “There is no indication on the website the exam scores were wrong.”
She said her teacher told her that usually, the average difference between his students’ final Grade 12 English before and after the provincial exam was about 2 per cent. But this year, the average was 35.5 per cent.
She said she is particularly angry the problem hasn’t been properly communicated to students, parents, postsecondary institutions and scholarship foundations.
“I don’t know how to get in touch with those organizations, and I also don’t know whether the word from a student who applied for those scholarships is going to mean anything," she said. “I am pretty voiceless in the issue as an 18-year-old.”
She said as of Monday, students accessing the online transcript portal for their marks found a notice indicating that the grades were being investigated.
By Tuesday, the University of British Columbia said in a statement it was working “to determine the full extent of the issue.”
“We will make sure that if there has been an administrative error in data reporting, that it doesn’t have a negative impact on any of our incoming students.”
Wendy Taylor, acting registrar at the University of Victoria, said the school would await finalization of the grades.
But one scholarship organization Ms. Murray-Hill applied to, the Walker Wood Foundation, said it was unaware of the problem, but it’s the universities administering the awards who should be aware of such issue and take it into consideration when choosing award recipients.
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