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Alberta postpones new math, English curriculum for grades 4-6 to September 2023

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Alberta Education Minister Adriana LaGrange announced the implementation of the new math and English language arts curriculum for grades 4 to 6 will be postponed until September 2023.

In January, a committee consisting of Alberta Education officials, teacher representatives from piloting schools, school division officials, and other stakeholders was struck to guide the introduction of redesigned English, math, and physical education and wellness curriculums for K-6.

On Thursday, LaGrange said the new math and English curriculums would be implemented for kindergarten to Grade 3 this fall after receiving advice from that committee. The phys-ed curriculum will move forward for all grades from K-6 this fall. All of the final curriculums to be taught this fall will be available to teachers for review in April, LaGrange added.

"The measured strategy we are announcing today is based on their valuable insight and expert advice," she said. "They know what's required for curriculum implementation to be successful in Alberta's classrooms."

"My goal and obligation as the minister of education have always been to put the best curriculum possible in classrooms for our students," LaGrange said.

According to LaGrange, bringing the new mathematics and language arts subjects to K-3 will help address the learning loss incurred from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These are two key areas where some of our youngest learners are experiencing challenges," she said, adding that delaying implementation was not "in the best interest of students."

"Our government committed to teaching students essential knowledge to help them develop a strong foundation for future learning, and we committed to improving student outcomes in reading, writing, and mathematics," LaGrange said.

Last year, LaGrange pushed back the implementation of curriculums that had been most heavily criticized: social studies, fine arts, and science.

To help implement the new curriculums, the provincial government earmarked $191 million over the next three years in Budget 2022, released in late February. This year, $59 million will go toward teacher professional development to help prepare for the new subjects, LaGrange announced.

The committee is expected to recommend a timeline for piloting the remaining K-6 curriculum subjects to LaGrange by May this year.

"Moving forward with curriculum development and implementation is essential to help prepare our students for a rapidly changing labour market," LaGrange said. "A new curriculum will set them up on the best path forward for success. Our students deserve this new curriculum."

ATA POLL SUGGESTS TEACHER CONCERNS

Also on Thursday, the Alberta Teachers' Association (ATA) released a survey showing that five per cent of teachers agree the new K-6 curriculum will be positive for students, and an even smaller three per cent reported they have the resources to support implementing a new curriculum.

That survey polled 825 teachers from Jan. 31 to Feb. 17 and has a sampling error of +/- 3.4 per cent.

When asked about the survey, LaGrange said she had not seen the results.

"In the past, the surveys that were responded to by teachers through the ATA were very small numbers," the education minister said, adding she would review the data. "We always engage with our education partners."

In response to the announcement, Sarah Hoffman, Opposition education critic, said the "vast majority" of Albertans still reject most of the new curriculum.

"The UCP seems focused on ramming through a curriculum that won't help students prepare for higher learning, the world of work, or how to be engaged citizens," Hoffman said.

"But today, the minister at least agreed to delay the implementation of math and language arts beyond Grade 3."

According to Hoffman, Thursday's announcement showed the only way to get a better curriculum for Alberta students was to "change the government."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alex Antoneshyn and CTV News Calgary's Jordan Kanygin

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