New high school curriculum gets more time

The final rollout of B.C.’s new school curriculum is being pushed back a year to allow for a smoother transition, Education Minister Rob Fleming announced Tuesday.

The curriculum will go live for Grade 10 in 2018 as planned, but Grades 11 and 12 will be moved to 2019 to give teachers, parents, post-secondary schools and other partners more time to prepare, he said. “It’s not a delay because we are going to go ahead with Grade 10, so we’re building on the momentum that we’ve seen in K-9,” Fleming said.

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The curriculum was implemented for kindergarten to Grade 9 in 2016.

“We had three years to implement the K-9 curriculum change,” he said. “We’ve had just two years of the draft senior grade levels. So essentially we’re bringing another equivalent year for the system to adapt for the senior grade levels.”

Fleming said people raised concerns that the education system is already experiencing tremendous change due to increased investment and the hiring of hundreds more teachers. There are also concerns that colleges and universities need more time to align the new curriculum with their admission requirements.

“We want to avoid any situation where there’s an entrance-exam requirement or something that might put a B.C. student at a disadvantage at one of the domestic provincial universities vis-à-vis out-of-province students,” Fleming said.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation welcomed the additional year to prepare. “It’s something that we were requesting,” president Glen Hansman said. “There needs to be a bit more time to work with the post-secondary institutions and come to ground on the grad requirements and make sure that the curriculum revisions can be fine-tuned before the light switch goes on.”

Hansman said it’s the first time in B.C. history where the subjects at all grade levels are changing in a short period of time.

“So doing too much too soon could mean that it all kind of implodes and we don’t want that,” he said. “There’s been a lot of good work that’s gone into all of this and we want its implementation to be successful. So this is going to provide a bit more space for high schools to prepare and organize themselves.”

Jen Mezei, president of the B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, said parents expressed similar concerns at a summit last year. “We actually heard from quite a few parents who were just worried that we wouldn’t be ready,” she said. lkines@timescolonist.com

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