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New curriculum delayed for Grades 10 to 12

Parents have until Dec. 16 to fill out survey on school calendar options

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Implementation of a new provincial curriculum for Grades 10 to 12 will be delayed to the 2018-19 school year, giving teachers more time to prepare.

In a letter to parents on Nov. 29, education minister Mike Bernier explained the decision.

"The extra year makes sense because the graduation years are more complex than the K-9 years. They are tied to provincial exams. They are connected to post-secondary choices," Bernier wrote.

"We are making sure that we get the Grade 10-12 redesigned curriculum right for students, ensuring their future success in post-secondary and the workforce."

The added prep time will prove beneficial, said Lisa McCullough, Sea to Sky School District superintendent.

"If you look back at the K-to-9 curriculum the teachers had two or three years to look at it and try it on and give feedback and to try different things with the students and to talk to each other about it," McCullough said, noting that the same wasn't true for the 10 to 12 curriculum, which came to schools in draft form.

"It was not clear and specific in what it was asking teachers to do, and then that was only for the one year and then, bam, we're supposed to implement it," she said.

"So, the teachers have been saying for quite awhile we need another year with this curriculum."

Teachers have already had one curriculum implementation day this year, with another to follow in January, McCullough said.

Parent information sessions are also in the works, likely in late winter or early spring.

While new District Parent Advisory Council chair Melissa Perizzollo can't speak for all parents, she said she thinks the delay is a good thing for students and teachers.

"It definitely allows the students and parents to become more comfortable with the new curriculum while still understanding and being comfortable with the old curriculum, because it's hard to do a sharp change," Perizzollo said.

"I think teachers feel that and I definitely know parents feel that, so I think it's a good thing, what they're doing. It's a nice bridge."

With the changes, students entering Grade 10 in the 2017-18 school year will be the first to take new provincial exams.

By 2018-19, students will require 80 credits total, with a minimum of 16 at the Grade 12 level and 28 elective course credits.

Detailed exam info can be found at www.curriculum.gov.bc.ca/graduation-info.

There isn't concern at the district that students in the midst of all this change will be unprepared for university, McCullough said; the crucial piece for teachers in the coming months will be determining exactly where students will pick up "key concepts" under the new curriculum.

"We're not focused on content as the majority of our teaching anymore, but content still has a role in the learning environment," she said.

"And so our teachers want to make sure that they understand where and when certain key concepts are going to be taught... that's an important part of solidifying our students' understanding, and so that is one of the key reasons they wanted the delay: let us talk to each other about when and where kids are learning these concepts.

"They see them as very foundational for their future."

SCHOOL CALENDAR SURVEY ends DEC. 16

Parents have until Dec. 16 to fill out a survey on the next three years of school calendars.

The survey asks whether parents would prefer a one-week or two-week spring break, along with an option to submit comments on the placement of proposed non-instructional days.

The difference between the two spring break options is about eight instructional minutes per day.

The proposed spring breaks are lined up with breaks in the metro school districts.

To view proposed draft calendars and take the survey, head to www.sd48seatosky.org/calendar-consultation.

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