By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
After several revisions of the new curriculum for Kindergarten to Grade 6, it has now been finalized and will be implemented in schools across Alberta for the next semester in 2022-2023. The new curriculum will be implementing a new Mathematics, English Language Arts, and Literature for students in Kindergarten to Grade 3. Where the students who are in kindergarten to great six will have a new Physical Education and Wellness curriculum.
“These three subjects in Alberta’s new K-6 curriculum are critical starting points that will set students on the best path for success,” said Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education in a press release. “We heard what Albertans and education system partners told us and, with their insight, we updated Mathematics and English Language Arts and Literature to make sure our youngest students have the literacy and numeracy skills essential for early years learning. The Physical Education and Wellness curriculum fulfils our platform commitments of ensuring all elementary school students learn the importance of obtaining and providing consent as well as fundamental financial literacy skills.”
With the Alberta government listening to all feedback from teachers, pilot programs and engagement activities the final version of the curriculum aligns with other top performing curriculums both within Canada and internationally.
“Taking part in piloting the draft curriculum has allowed us to have a voice in the process. We thank the government for listening to teachers’ feedback and making related changes,” said Stefanie Brown, principal of Florence MacDougall Community School. “I can’t thank my teachers enough for all the hard work they put in and for what they have accomplished in the pandemic and during piloting.”
“It took eight years of advocacy for me to see this. This is a very strong math curriculum. It is clear, concise, age-appropriate and well sequenced. It is a curriculum that sees and realizes our children’s fullest potential. They will have the confidence and skills to pursue their dreams and succeed not only in the STEM fields, but also in life.” said Dr. Nhung Tran-Davies, parent and advocate for strong math curriculum.
“The revised K-6 Mathematics curriculum includes strengthened content that fosters core competencies in math,” said Martin Mrazik professor at the University of Alberta and former teacher at Elk Island Public School Division. “This included reinforcing basic fundamentals in a well-sequenced manner that will promote a student’s understanding of math in a real-world context where calculations, measurements, statistical analyses, problem-solving and an applied knowledge of money and finances are required. This strong foundation in math will also help support the innovation and creativity needed to thrive in an increasingly technological society. I was pleased to see the flow of the curriculum aligns with other educational jurisdictions that have strong international reputations.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic interrupting students normal process of learning at school the Alberta government expects the new English Language Arts section of the curriculum to help strengthen kids reading and writing skills. These are some of the most important skills for kids development in early learning. During the pilot program for the new English Language Arts section of the curriculum at the University of Alberta 82 per cent of students who were struggling with reading saw improvement with small group intervention. These resources will be available when the curriculum is being implemented and the researchers from the University of Alberta continue to work closely with Alberta Education with this new curriculum.
“Reading is undoubtedly the foundation of learning,” said George Georgiou professor of department of educational psychology, faculty of education, University of Alberta. “The new English Language Arts and Literature curriculum is grounded in research and allows for explicit and systematic instruction in foundational skills such as phonological awareness, phonics, fluency and vocabulary. These skills set children up for success in comprehension and reading enjoyment.”
Over the next three years, the Alberta government is going to be investing $191 million to help support the implementation of this new curriculum. $59 million of this investment is going towards teacher professionals as well as teacher resources to ensure that they are prepared to begin teaching this new curriculum in the fall.
“The College of Alberta School Superintendents believes today’s announcement will help provide clarity to many of the education system’s questions regarding curriculum implementation,” said Wilco Tymensen, president of College of Alberta School Superintendents and member of the Curriculum Implementation Advisory Group. “Today’s release of the final updates to three curriculums and details about resources will allow school divisions to better support their teachers as they plan for student success using the new curriculum.”
“As a member of the Curriculum Implementation Advisory Group and a school division that piloted the three subjects that will be implemented this year,” said Michael McMann superintendent of Fort Vermilion School Division and member of the Curriculum Implementation Advisory Group. “I am pleased to see the release of this revised curriculum and the resources that will support its implementation. This has been a collaborative process and I can see that all members’ voices are being heard. It is critically important that we continue moving forward and the implementation of these subjects and grades in September 2022 is the next step in doing that.”
If you are interested in reading about all of the changes to the curriculum you can find this information online at alberta.ca/curriculum.