UCP updates K-6 French and Science curriculums, earning praise from school boards

Alberta will launch new Kindergarten to Grade 6 French and Science curriculums in classrooms this fall to better prepare students for a 'rapidly changing labour market.'

UCP updates K-6 French and Science curriculums, earning praise from school boards
Adriana LaGrange/ Facebook
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"Curriculum renewal is essential to help prepare our students for a rapidly changing labour market, which is placing an ever-increasing premium on adaptability and transferable skills," said Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange

"To ensure successful implementation, we are making significant investments to provide teachers with the resources they need to support students in transitioning to the new curriculum." 

According to an embargoed release, the UCP is taking a balanced, measured approach to K-6 curriculum renewal on the recommendation of the Curriculum Implementation Advisory Group — a 12-member group with broad representation to ensure the best interests of Alberta education.

During the 2023/24 school year, over 240,000 students will learn from the new K-3 French First Language and Literature, French Immersion Language Arts and Literature, and Science curriculums. However, school authorities can implement new curriculums in these subjects for grades 4-6, according to the province. 

The curriculum changes are to address areas of concern with content load, age appropriateness, and wording clarity. The French First Language and Literature curriculum will add spelling rules and specify which types of texts are studied in each grade. 

As announced in March 2022, school authorities will implement grades 4 to 6 English Language Arts and Literature as well as Mathematics curriculums this fall. 

Between March 2021 and February 2023, Alberta's government received feedback from Albertans on the draft K-6 curriculum from over 34,000 online surveys, and 1,100 attendees participated in virtual information sessions hosted by Alberta Education.

Nearly 600 Albertans shared diverse viewpoints on each subject area at 31 virtual engagement sessions.

Twelve partner organizations also received $800,000 in grants to help them engage with their communities and report their unique perspectives.

According to the embargoed release, enhancing French Immersion Language Arts and Literature content aligns with learning another language and developing students' creative writing skills. Strengthening Science content will promote agricultural practices in Alberta and align with previously implemented subjects. 

Calgary Catholic School Board Chair Cathie Williams said 60 teachers participated in the French immersion pilot. 

"Teachers are impressed with how condensed and laid out the curriculum is as well as the consideration that has been given to age-appropriate sequencing of learning outcomes," said Williams. 

"Teachers look forward to implementing this curriculum next school year and receiving a list of curated Alberta Education resources to support implementation." 

Edmonton Catholic School Board chair, Sandra Palazzo, said Edmonton Catholic Schools worked closely with Alberta Education to provide feedback on the draft curriculum.

"An updated curriculum, including Computer Science, will help students develop skills and aptitudes for the future," she said.

The Alberta government committed to implementing the curriculum successfully and practically for elementary teachers this September. The UCP will spend $47 million to facilitate the updated curriculum.

This includes funding $45 per student to purchase additional curriculum resources to support the implementation of the new K-6 curriculum in three subject areas and $800 on a per-teacher basis to support professional learning.

In addition, Alberta Education will retain funding to purchase, license and develop high-quality learning and teaching resources aligned with the new curriculum.

Currently, Alberta Education is working with the province's four largest school boards to develop science resources. This collaboration will ensure resources are accessible to school authorities to support student learning and successfully implement the science curriculum. 

Alberta School Boards Association President Marilyn Dennis said professional development and timely access to resources are "essential to ensure educators and the system are fully prepared to implement the new curriculum." 

"The Alberta School Boards Association looks forward to continuing to engage with our member boards and to collaborate with the government and education partners on required support to ensure the success of all students," said Dennis. 

"The Calgary Board of Education shares the government's goal of providing a quality curriculum that prepares students for future success," added CBE board chair Laura Hack.

"Together, we are committed to ongoing effective implementation."

Alberta moved ahead with changes to its K-6 curriculum in April which were rolled out in classrooms last fall. 

In the 2021/22 school year, about 360 teachers piloted draft K-6 Mathematics, English Language Arts and Literature, Science, Physical Education and Wellness, as well as Social Studies and Fine Arts curriculums with approximately 7,800 students.

In the 2022/23 school year, 941 teachers are piloting draft K-6 French First Language and Literature, French Immersion Language Arts and Literature and Science curriculums with 22,000 students in 47 school authorities across the province.

All K-3 students will learn the new math and English language arts and literature curriculums, while K-6 will be taught from the updated physical education and wellness curriculum.

"These three subjects in Alberta's new K-6 curriculum are critical starting points that will set students on the best path for success," said LaGrange.

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