Edmonton

New curriculum coming to K-6 classrooms this fall — but not all of it, education minister says

Alberta students in kindergarten through Grade 3 will be taught the new curriculum in mathematics and English language arts starting this fall, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said Thursday. Grade 4-6 students won't see new math and English curriculum until September 2023.

Grade 4-6 students won't see new math and English curriculum until September 2023

Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said students in grades 4 to 6 will start English language arts and mathematics in Sept. 2023. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press)

Alberta students in kindergarten through Grade 3 will be taught the new curriculum in mathematics and English language arts starting this fall, Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said Thursday.

But students in grades 4 to 6 won't start learning the new English language arts and literature and mathematics curriculum until September 2023, LaGrange told a news conference.

LaGrange said math and English are key areas where younger children need the most help. 

"This will help our younger students who are in their critical early stages in their development, strengthening their numeracy and literacy skills," she said.

All students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will be taught the province's new curriculum in wellness and physical education starting in September.

The provincial government has been criticized by teachers, parents and the Opposition NDP while it reviewed and piloted the new curriculum.

LaGrange said she's heard calls for the government to delay implementing the new curriculum. 

"This would not be in the best interest of our students," she said, calling the current curriculum outdated. 

Stop now

Sarah Hoffman, the NDP's education critic, called on the government to delay the entire re-write. 

"The government should be going back to the table," Hoffman said, and consult Indigenous leaders, BIPOC people and the francophone school board.

The curriculum has not been piloted anywhere in the province, she said 

"If the minister actually wanted to show respect to Franco-Albertans and to the larger community in general, she could absolutely listen to what trustees are saying, what academics are saying, what teachers are saying and stop the implementation of this curriculum." 

The only good news from Thursday is the delay in implementing English language arts and math classes for grades 4 to 6., she said. 

LaGrange said she based her decision to start with some subjects this fall on advice from the curriculum implementation advisory group, which was set up in January. 

The group included superintendents, teachers, an elementary principal and representatives from the Alberta School Boards Association.

The curriculum review process was the "most open and transparent curriculum review process our province has ever seen," LaGrange said. 

Poll shows lack of confidence

The Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) released a poll Thursday showing three per cent of teachers feel they have sufficient resources to implement the draft K–6 curriculum successfully this fall. 

The poll, conducted by Environics Research, also shows almost half of Alberta residents believe the draft curriculum won't meet the needs of students.

Jason Schilling, president of the ATA, said there's not enough time for teachers and schools to get ready, as the poll reflects. 

While English language arts and math is on hold until September 2023 for grades 4 to 6, Schilling is calling on the UCP government to halt the curriculum for all courses

"This curriculum is flawed, it's damaging, it's widely unpopular, and it's time to stop the implementation of it now," Schilling said in an interview Thursday. 

Some subject matter outlined in the draft curriculum is not appropriate for certain ages, is Eurocentric, and doesn't respect Indigenous communities across Alberta, he said.

The online survey gathered responses from 800 Albertans 18 years and older, between Jan. 27 and Feb. 17 this year. 

A margin of sampling error doesn't apply for opt-in panel surveys, the ATA said. 

The poll was also based on responses from 825 ATA members with a margin of sampling error +/-3.4 per cent at the 95 per cent confidence interval.

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