91 per cent of Alta. teachers unhappy with new draft curriculum: ATA survey

New survey results released by the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) on Thursday suggest a large majority of educators are unhappy with the Alberta government's latest K-6 draft curriculum.

The preliminary results of the ATA survey seem to back up what CTV News has been hearing from school boards and teachers in Alberta since the new draft curriculum was unveiled by the Alberta government late last month.

According to the ATA survey - which heard from over 3,500 Alberta teachers, school leaders, and central office leaders between March 29 and April 7 - 91 per cent of respondents are unhappy with the new curriculum draft.

The survey also showed 90 per cent of teachers are not comfortable teaching the new K-6 curriculum.

“We wanted to give teachers time to review the documents and provide their feedback to us since the government failed to engage teachers in the curriculum process. But the preliminary data is overwhelming: this draft curriculum is fatally flawed," ATA president Jason Schilling said in a news release.

Among the key areas of concern, according to the ATA survey, is the age-appropriateness of the curriculum.  

Eighty-nine per cent of Alberta educators who took the survey believe the draft curriculum is not "age-appropriate" or "logically sequenced each grade and from grade to grade."

“Teachers are the experts," said Schilling. "Teachers know what will work in a classroom and what will not, and they are overwhelmingly telling us that this curriculum won’t work for Alberta’s elementary students.”

Another complaint from the survey's respondents is the lack of inclusivity in the new curriculum.

Eighty-one per cent of Alberta educators surveyed said draft curriculum is not "inclusive of opportunities for all students to reach their potential best."

Seventy-one per cent disagreed that "the draft curriculum is scientifically rigorous while respecting a variety of beliefs."

“It is clear that the problem with this curriculum is that teachers were not sufficiently engaged in its development and their concerns were not addressed," Schilling said. 

"The feedback shows that the government has failed its own mission. If the government is serious about producing a strong curriculum, it needs to listen to what teachers are telling them.”

According to Schilling, the ATA plans to provide updates and a final report to the public and the Alberta government after a series of roundtable discussions with curriculum experts are held later in the spring.

As of 2017, there was a total of 47,289 full and part-time educators in Alberta, according to Statistics Canada.

RESPONSE FROM THE PROVINCE

CTV News Edmonton reached out to Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange's office for comment on the high number of teachers reportedly unhappy with the new draft curriculum, and received a written statement.

"Alberta’s government brought together more than 100 Alberta teachers, many who are members of the teachers’ union, to review the draft K-6 curriculum and provide feedback based on their experience in the classroom," Charlotte Taillon, acting press secretary for Alberta's Education Minister, wrote.

"These teachers considered the developmental appropriateness of curriculum, the amount of content in each grade and subject, and the learning progression students will experience." 

CTV News Edmonton had asked whether any Alberta school boards have yet to volunteer to pilot the K-6 curriculum to date, and if the Education Minister would be revisiting the draft curriculum in light of the ATA survey results. 

Those questions were not directly answered.

"Feedback provided throughout the piloting phase will be critical to informing any changes made to the draft curriculum before it is fully implemented," wrote Taillon. "We encourage as many Albertans as possible, including teachers, to review the curriculum for themselves and provide feedback at alberta.ca/curriculum.

"We fully expect that the piloting phase will be successful. Alberta Education’s Curriculum Implementation Team will soon be reaching out to school authorities to begin the classroom piloting process."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Dan Grummett