Alberta to move forward with new K-3 math, English curriculum this September

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The Alberta government is delaying new math and English curriculums for Grades 4-6 until next year, while moving ahead with the updated curriculum for students in kindergarten to Grade 3 starting this September.

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Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said in a press conference Thursday afternoon that students who are in the “critical early stages of their development” will be able to strengthen their numeracy and literacy skills with the new curriculum.

“These are two key areas where some of our youngest learners are experiencing challenges,” LaGrange said.

“Focusing implementation of the new K-3 curriculum for mathematics and English language arts and literature will build on additional support Alberta’s government has already provided to address learning loss experienced by our students. New curriculum for Grades 4-6 in these two subjects will be implemented the following school year starting in September of 2023.”

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A new physical education and wellness curriculum will also be implemented across all kindergarten to Grade 6 classes when the new school year begins in the fall.

LaGrange said the final curriculum being implemented this fall will be available in April so teachers can prepare come September.

She noted Thursday’s announcement is based on the advice of the province’s Curriculum Implementation Advisory Group, made up of superintendents, curriculum experts, teachers, a principal, and representatives from the Alberta School Boards Association and the College of Alberta School Superintendents.

“Their direction was (to) start in the early grades, and then follow up with the older grades in the following year, that would provide for the greatest success moving forward and implementation,” LaGrange said.

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By May, the advisory group will make recommendations on piloting and implementation timelines of the remaining K-6 curriculum. In December, LaGrange announced fine arts, French first language and literature, French immersion language arts and literature and science as well as social studies were being put on hold until new drafts can be released in spring 2022.

But Opposition NDP education critic Sarah Hoffman said the UCP is “ramming” through a curriculum that “won’t help students prepare for higher learning, the world of work, or how to be engaged citizens.”

She said the province needs to delay the curriculum for all grades, not just for Grades 4-6.

“The truth is that the government should be going back to the table. They should be working with active teachers, they should be working with academics who have expertise in this, clearly, the minister does not,” Hoffman said.

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“They should be working with Indigenous leaders, the Black community, they should be working with Francophone Albertans to make sure that we are bringing forward something that we can all be proud of.”

Despite the continuous calls to delay the entire draft curriculum, LaGrange said doing so would not be in the best interest of students.

“We are committed to improving student performance and outcomes in reading, writing and mathematics. That’s exactly what we are doing with this balance and measured approach,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) released results from a survey of 800 Albertans and 825 members on the K-6 curriculum and its implementation on Thursday.

Results show only three per cent of teachers feel they have the resources and supports needed to successfully implement the curriculum this fall while nearly half of Albertans don’t believe the curriculum will meet the needs of students.

Fifty-six per cent of Albertans and 90 per cent of teachers indicated they disapprove of the government’s handling of the curriculum.

LaGrange said she has not had a chance to look at the survey results, but is happy to hear from the ATA and their concerns and will look to address them moving forward.

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