Alberta Education to begin piloting science, French curricula in September

The Alberta government says revised curricula for science, French language, and French literature are ready to be tested in classrooms this fall.

Alberta Education made the announcement Tuesday morning, revealing also a June 6 deadline for school authorities to notify the department of their intent to join the pilot and changes that were made to the curricula based on feedback received over the past year.

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange said her department was not seeking a specific number of schools to participate in the pilot in order to maintain "maximum flexibility," but that she had heard "a number of school authorities very interested."

She believes school authorities will be "well positioned" to say in three weeks whether or not they'll take part.

Alberta Education is to work with schools over the summer to prepare for September, including by providing professional learning opportunities and other resources. A total of $6.5 million is being allocated to the pilot.

Feedback will be collected throughout the pilot and final curriculum changes will be made in the spring for the start of the 2023-24 school year.

The president of the Alberta Teachers' Association said the province is rushing the curriculum changes.

"In addition to implementing—on very short notice and without adequate supports—new curriculum in three subjects, schools will be expected to take on piloting of new curriculum in up to three more subjects," Jason Schilling said in a release. "Schools are being inundated with added expectations next year, and students will suffer as a result—something that teachers, school leaders and parents do not want to see."

WHAT REVISIONS WERE MADE?

All three curricula were made more age appropriate and less dense, Alberta Education says.

Specifically, the government says that the science curriculum was updated to emphasize connections to nature, cover digital literacy and ethics, and consist of language that was accurate and objective.

As well, both the French First Language and Literature and the French Immersion Language Arts and Literature programs were revised to better include francophone perspectives and cultures. Earlier feedback had suggested strengthening the focus on oral language and bilingual or plurilingual identity.

All four of Alberta's francophone school authorities plan to participate in the pilot, according to the association representing Alberta's francophone school boards.

"We have had the curriculum implementation advisory committee group that has been made up of curriculum experts as well as teachers, administrators, superintendents, who have advised us to move forward with piloting," LaGrange said. "They feel it's very important, along with the implementation of the subjects we're bringing in in the fall."

Alberta Education is expected to release reports on the feedback it received by the end of May.