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Draft fails to meet government standards

October 12, 2021 Kate Toogood, ATA News Staff


ATA curriculum study draws responses from 6,500 teachers

If the Alberta government were grading the new draft K–6 curriculum, it would have to fail itself. 

That’s the conclusion of a professional review conducted by the Alberta Teachers’ Association, which included feedback gained through an online survey, as well as written submissions and focus groups, with more than 6,500 teacher participants. The review assessed the curriculum by comparing the draft to the government of Alberta’s own vision. 

“The government may have set out to develop a high-quality curriculum, but our analysis shows they have failed to meet their own goals,” says ATA president Jason Schilling. “If they won’t listen to the thousands of teachers who have spoken, perhaps they will listen to themselves.”


In addition to failing to meet provincial guidelines, other key findings of the report show that the new curriculum has a variety of shortcomings: 

  • not logically sequenced and not appropriately designed for teacher use;
  • narrowly defined content that does not reflect the development of knowledge, understanding and skills for the 21st century;
  • developmentally inappropriate learning outcomes that lack high academic standards and do not adequately describe what students must know and be able to do;
  • inclusion of Indigenous content that is not authentic and appears as tokenism;
  • inadequate inclusion of francophone histories, contributions and perspectives;
  • lack of respect for Alberta’s diversity and support for a peaceful, pluralistic society;
  • failure to address racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry, and the use of language that actually promotes such bigotry; and
  • inclusion of world religions as a mandatory topic in K–12, which infringes on the religious freedoms of Alberta parents.

Although the review contained many findings that showed the curriculum fell short, for Schilling, one of the most outrageous revelations was the lack of classroom experience of the draft’s writers.

“This curriculum is based on ideological, antiquated ideas of what children should learn, by those who seem to have no experience with teaching in Albertan or even Canadian classrooms,” he says. “Why would the government think it is acceptable to allow people with no understanding of the purpose of curriculum, or how to bring it to life, to guide this process?”

Ultimately, due to the draft’s illogical, unfocused and unorganized condition, Schilling says it is children who will suffer. 

“How can we expect kids to thrive in the modern world if we don’t prepare them with the skills or knowledge they’ll need?”

“If this curriculum moves ahead, Alberta’s kids will get left behind and be set up for failure in the 21st century.”

Although the teaching profession is frustrated by being left out of the curriculum development process, Schilling says teachers are more than willing to assist the government with a rewrite that reflects their extensive expertise and knowledge.

“As teachers, we’re committed to supporting the development of a high-quality curriculum, so the Association prepared to work in partnership with the government of Alberta toward that end,” he says.

“We’re happy to come to the table to co-create a modern curriculum that meets the needs of Alberta students.”

Schilling said that he had requested a meeting with the minister in September to discuss the curriculum draft but was told there was no time available. ❚

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