Alberta announced the new curriculum draft which they expect to see implemented in elementary schools by 2022.
Alberta began a review of the Kindergarten – Grade six (K-6) curriculum in August 2019. After 19 months, Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange revealed the draft March 29.
“I believe in my heart that this new curriculum will position our children for great success and give them the best chance to reach their potential,” said LaGrange.
Alberta ranked number one in a 2006 international reading study but dropped to 17th by 2016, LaGrange noted.
They dropped from the 16th place to the 39th in math.
“Students progressed through the system despite being unable to add or subtract. This must end,” said LaGrange.
The draft includes four key areas: literacy, numeracy, citizenship, and practical skills.
It will also includes study on Indigenous Canadians, Black and Francophone settlements and Asian contributions, among other things.
Consent will also be part of the new curriculum.
“Consent will be taught as an essential element of the health and wellness curriculum,” said LaGrange
“They will learn more directly that sexual activity should never be forced, or make individuals uncomfortable.”
Included in the draft are financial literacy skills.
“Our young children in Kindergarten and Grade one and two will learn the value of money,” said LaGrange.
“I know this shift is enormous, seven grades and eight subjects, but it is one we inherited and it is necessary for our children and their futures.”
Chief of Lubicon Lake Band #453, Billy Joe Laboucan, reviewed the draft.
“I very much support it and see it as a really good start,” said Laboucan.
“I’d like to acknowledge the elders of the First Nation, Metis, Inuit that were part of this curriculum draft.”
Treaty education will begin at grade four. Students will learn about residential schools at grade five.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended these be taught at all grades.
“They will learn it in art and music, they will learn it across all grades and all subjects,” said LaGrange.
“We certainly want to ensure that our students would be able to learn about residential schools, about the [TRC], about treaties and that treaties are living documents.”
NDP Critic for Education, Sarah Hoffman criticized this portion of the draft.
“What message does it send to Indigenous students when they are forced to memorize dates in European history for years before learning about Indigenous history in their classroom,” said Hoffman.
“We’ll be reviewing this draft and the implementation plan in great detail, but let’s be clear: This curriculum is unacceptable in its current form.”
Implementation during a pandemic
President of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Jason Schilling, has concerns over testing the curriculum during the pandemic.
“Our reasearch shows that 9 out of 10 Alberta teachers are expressing concern about piloting a new curriculum during these uncertain times,” said Schilling.
“What was released today is barely a plan, and certainly not a plan for success.”
Classrooms will test this curriculum on a voluntary basis starting in September.
They will continue to hear from teachers and adjust from there.
The government has set aside $6 million to help schools that participate in this pilot.
This is the first update Alberta’s curriculum has seen in years according to LaGrange. Albertans are invited to see the curriculum online and they can provide feedback.
“I’m so excited, this is a great curriculum, it is solid. I would encourage every Albertan to have a look at it,” said LaGrange.
The curriculum is to take effect in September 2022, according to LaGrange.