By Greg Price
The face of education will be seeing its biggest changes in the province of the last three decades.
Alberta Education announced earlier this month they would be overhauling the provincial curriculum.
The government announced a new curriculum will be developed for Kindergarten to Grade 4 by late 2018. That will be followed by Grades 5 to 8 in late 2019. After that, the high school curriculum will be developed in phases from 2020 to 2022.
“There is going to be significant work going to happen fairly quickly,” said Amber Darroch, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction at the Horizon School Division board of trustees meeting on June 21.
Development of the new curriculum, which includes Arts, Language Arts (English, French, Français), Mathematics, Social Studies, Sciences, and Wellness will begin with consultation in September.
“We will be asked to have a teacher from Grade 1-3. Grade 4-6, Grade 7-9 and high school for each of the six subjects with 24 spots available for Horizon teachers,” said Darroch. “They will be part of provincial working groups, developing the skeleton of what the curriculum looks like from Grade 1-12. These teachers will meet for three-day sessions, four times in the next school year.”
Showing just how intensive the overhaul is without factoring in the other 41 public school authorities, that is 288 teaching days invested in the 2016-2017 school year from Horizon teachers alone. If the same ratio were given to every public school authority, that would amount to 12096 teaching days spread out over 1008 teachers.
“Alberta Education will pay for the expenses of teachers to travel and replace them (in the classroom) for those days they are gone,” said Darroch. “Just so you know the scale of this work, but on the bright side, it is exciting and it’s important that teachers are involved, on the other hand, it’s a significant investment.”
“It amounts to 1.5, two people gone every day of the (school year), they will be away,” said Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of Horizon School Division.
Bruce Francis, vice-chair of the Horizon board of trustees wondered out loud if the current curriculum is really that bad.
“Some of our curriculum is 36 years old,” answered Tymensen.
Francis also inquired how Horizon will be deciding which teachers in the division will be filling the 24 spots.
“There are probably some teachers you would prefer to go over others,” said Francis.
“We will nominate and fill those spots. I’m not sure if we will have enough teachers to fill every spot. We also want to make sure we have good representation with our most experienced staff and the ways that are most innovative,” answered Darroch.
Alberta Education said the new curriculum will contain an explicit focus on the development of learner outcomes that support and reinforce 21st-century competencies across curriculum, as well as literacy and numeracy and that the provincial curriculum will be developed simultaneously in English and French for the first time.
There will also be support for First Nations, Métis and Inuit student learning, as well as the inclusion of Education for Reconciliation, which includes ways of knowing and diverse perspectives, will be reflected in future K-12 curriculum.
Four million dollars in existing funding will be spent on consultation with Indigenous partners on future curriculum.
The costs for this new curriculum development is being funded through current budget allocations; no new money is required, said Alberta Education.
The cost over six fiscal years is estimated at $64,430,684. This includes $38,850,000 for staffing, $20,394,684 for the engagement strategy and $5,186,000 for CDA.