Teacher input sought following release of draft program of studies for K–6
The Alberta Teachers’ Association has launched an independent review to gather teacher feedback on the new draft K–6 curriculum that the government released on March 29, the first day of spring break for many teachers.
New curriculum has been in development for years and the new draft has drawn criticism from teachers, education experts and parents for its outdated content that many have said is inappropriate for elementary learners.
ATA president Jason Schilling chalks this up to the government’s unwillingness to include the teaching profession in the curriculum development process.
“Teachers understand the readiness of young students for different pieces of content and how to bring curriculum to life in the classroom,” Schilling said. “To develop a curriculum without incorporating a grassroots, classroom-based understanding of how students learn could set our students up for failure.”
Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said the updated curriculum brings a renewed focus to literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills, giving students a strong base of essential knowledge for future learning.
“The new curriculum delivers on our commitment to Albertans to refocus learning on essential knowledge and skills in order to give our children the best possible chance at success. Parents and teachers have waited a long time for this, and I’m pleased to say that we’ve delivered,” she said.
Schilling also expressed concern about the minister’s expectations for piloting the new curriculum in the 2021/22 school year.
“We still have a lot of pandemic ahead of us, and our current research shows that nine out of 10 Alberta teachers are expressing concern about piloting a new curriculum during these uncertain times. What was released is barely a plan, and certainly not a plan for success.”
Because teachers take curriculum development seriously, the Association was keen to provide them with an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft, Schilling said. Therefore, on the same day that the curriculum draft was introduced, the Association launched an extensive and in-depth evaluation project to gather feedback from active teachers.
The project features an online questionnaire that’s open to all teachers and principals in Alberta’s public education system, including hundreds of elementary subject and grade-level specialists. A number of round-table discussions with subject-matter and curriculum-development experts will follow in late spring. The ATA will provide updates and a final report to the government and the public throughout the process.
The questionnaire garnered 1,500 responses in the first three days.
“Ultimately, we need to ensure curriculum properly prepares Alberta’s students for the future,” Schilling said. ❚
Read it and comment
Teachers can read the draft curriculum documents and provide their feedback here: https://surveys.teachers.ab.ca/s3/curriculumreview
Parent group forms
Within days of the release of the draft curriculum, a Facebook group formed called Parents Against Alberta’s New Curriculum Draft. The group had 16,000 members within a few days of forming and initiated a program called Chalk the Walk, which encouraged group members to write messages on sidewalks outside their MLA’s office, take a photo and tag it #abedfails.