Curriculum Review Shows K–6 Draft Fails to Meet Government’s Own Standards

Release Date 2021 09 29

If the Alberta government were grading the new draft K–6 curriculum, it would have to fail itself. 

A professional review conducted by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, including feedback gained through an online survey, written submissions and focus groups with more than 6,500 teacher participants, assessed the curriculum by comparing the draft to the Government of Alberta’s own vision and guidelines. The conclusion of teachers: the draft curriculum does not even meet the government’s own standards. 

“Alberta’s students and teachers require an appropriate and workable curriculum. The government may have set out to develop a high-quality curriculum, but our analysis shows they have failed to meet their own goals. If they won’t listen to the thousands of teachers who have spoken, perhaps they will listen to themselves.”

—Jason Schilling, ATA president

In addition to failing to meet provincial guidelines, other key findings of the report show that the new curriculum has a variety of shortcomings: 

  1. Not logically sequenced and not appropriately designed for teacher use
  2. Narrowly defined content that does not reflect the development of knowledge, understanding and skills for the 21st century
  3. Developmentally inappropriate learning outcomes that lack high academic standards and do not adequately describe what students must know and be able to do
  4. Inclusion of Indigenous content that is not authentic and appears as tokenism
  5. Inadequate inclusion of francophone histories, contributions and perspectives
  6. Lack of respect for Alberta’s diversity and support for a peaceful, pluralistic society
  7. Failure to address racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry, and the use of language that, in fact, promotes such bigotry
  8. Inclusion of world religions as a mandatory topic in K–12, which infringes on the religious freedoms of Alberta parents

“This curriculum is based on ideological, antiquated ideas of what children should learn, by those who seem to have no experience with teaching in Albertan, or even Canadian, classrooms.

If this curriculum moves ahead, Alberta’s kids will get left behind and be set up for failure in the 21st century.

—Jason Schilling, ATA president

Although the teaching profession is frustrated by being left out of the curriculum development process, Schilling says teachers are more than willing to assist the government with a rewrite that reflects their extensive expertise and knowledge.

“We are committed to supporting the development of a high-quality curriculum, and we are prepared to work in partnership with the Government of Alberta toward that end. It is the only workable path forward. We’re happy to come to the table to co-create a modern curriculum that meets the needs of Alberta students.”

—Jason Schilling, ATA president

The research follows the release of preliminary survey results showing that 91 per cent of teachers and school administrators are unhappy with the draft curriculum, with three in four teachers stating that they are “very unhappy.” The survey also showed that 90 per cent of elementary school teachers feel uncomfortable about teaching the new K–6 curriculum, and 95 per cent of principals feel uncomfortable about supporting the curriculum in their school and community.

The ATA is directing parents and the public who are concerned about the draft curriculum to pledge support for the moratorium and review by visiting curriculum.thelearningteam.ca. Parents are also encouraged to reach out to their local school trustee candidate to find out where they stand on the draft at vote4kids.ca.

The Alberta Teachers’ Association, as the professional organization of teachers, promotes and advances public education, safeguards standards of professional practice and serves as the advocate for its 46,000 members.