STAR Catholic School Division declines running pilot on K-6 draft curriculum

The Catholic school board conducted an in-depth analysis of the Education Alberta’s draft curriculum

Photo (STAR Catholic Logo)

STAR Catholic School Division declines running pilot K-6 draft curriculum

The STAR Catholic Board of Trustees have determined that they will not be running the new pilot K-6 curriculum in their schools.

Over the course of last month, STAR Catholic School Division conducted an in-depth analysis of the Education Alberta’s draft K-6 curriculum.

The analysis of the draft also included surveys of staff of all grade levels and parents.

“Given the feedback received, we feel that this choice best represents the needs of our students, staff, families, and school communities,” said Board Chair Michelle Lamer in a press release.

STAR Catholic surveyed K-6 teachers and 98 per cent of them said they would not be interested in piloting the draft curriculum.

Most respondents said a lack of energy due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with concerns with the content of the draft curriculum, contributed to their decision.

“This decision is one our Board takes very seriously. We are grateful for the thought and consideration that was put into the curriculum review and survey process to ensure our stakeholders were consulted and their voices were heard,” said Lamer.

Of the parents surveyed, 93 per cent indicated they would not support the Division participating in the pilot program, according to the press release.

“I believe that STAR Catholic School Division did a great job in their analysis. I feel that the Government of Alberta should listen to them. There is also a real opportunity to work together. There is wisdom and knowledge in sharing. Both sides should come together,” Rick Smith, a retired teacher.

Caitlin Kehoe, manager of communications at STAR Catholic School Division, says it is the Division’s hope Alberta Education will pause the pilot process to conduct a more in-depth review of the draft.

STAR Catholic is not the only school division to opt out of the pilot this fall. Nearby school divisions such as Wolf Creek Public Schools and Chinook’s Edge School Division have all opted out of the draft.

“Whatever the decision made by the province, our teachers will take advantage of any opportunities available in order to provide feedback,” said Kehoe.

The draft curriculum was announced at the end of March.

Adriana LaGrange, minister of education, said the curriculum is based on “proven research and is designed to improve student outcomes across all subjects, following several years of declining and stagnant student performance.”

LaGrange says the draft curriculum has four key learning themes: literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills.

Under literacy, students will be taught to master reading, writing, speaking and listening via using phonics and “other proven best practices.”

And under the citizenship theme, students will draw from history, geography, economics, civics, and other studies to, “develop an appreciation of how Canadians have built one of the most generous, prosperous, and diverse societies in the world.”

Practical skills runs the gamut from learning about household budgeting, digital literacy and business planning to healthy relationships and the importance of consent, she said.

LaGrange said the Province will hold a transparent review process including the pilot project.

“We thank all those who took the time to review the draft curriculum and share their thoughts on such an important matter,” said Lamer.

The draft will not be completed until 2022.

The draft K-6 curriculum is online at alberta.ca/curriculum for all Albertans to provide feedback until the spring 2022.

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