Mr Durkan had written to Minister Weir last fortnight, urging him to cancel exams for 2021.
Wales has already taken the decision to cancel exams next year for GCSE and A-Level students.
Said the Foyle MLA: “The ongoing impact of Covid and disruption to learning demands a different approach. As such, I respectfully disagree with Minister Weir’s conviction that ‘exams are the fairest means of awarding qualifications’ at this time.
“In the midst of a pandemic, when life and the world around us has practically been put on hold for the best part of a year, contingency plans really should have been in place – not just for GCSE and A-level students but for children set to take their transfer test in just two months’ time.
“Undertaking these examinations is a daunting prospect at the best of times, yet pupils this year have had to contend with and adapt to numerous challenges.
“They have spent more time out of the classroom than in it, many hampered by periods of self-isolation and continued disruption to their learning, which places them at a significant disadvantage.
“Pupils, their parents and their teachers, do not need the added stress of preparing for examinations in overcrowded halls.
“I am hugely disappointed that Minister Weir has chosen not to reconsider class-room based assessments rather than exams this year.
“It would have gone a long way in easing the pressures and anxieties for all involved.
“The department have failed to show a degree of leniency, which really should have been granted in these most unusual and uncertain times.”