British Columbia's New Curriculum
The updated curriculum developed for K-12 education will continue to be phased in at SD 91 schools in the 2016-17 school year, with changes to assessment and provincial exams also taking hold beginning this year.
Until now, the curriculum has been optional for teachers in kindergarten to Grade 9, but it will be the official curriculum in those grades starting September 2016.
WHY A NEW CURRICULUM?
As explained in a May 2016 letter to parents from the education minister, the world has become much different since the original curriculum was developed. New technologies enable access to a wealth of information on virtually any topic. Today’s students need to learn skills to successfully locate, analyze and evaluate information, then apply it in a proper and useful way.
The emphasis now is more on understanding concepts and processes, as well as a personalized learning experience and flexibility to better match individual student strengths and needs, as described in B.C.’s Education Plan.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
- There is more flexibility for teachers to tailor learning to a student’s needs and passions.
- There is also increased flexibility for teacher innovation; for example, to take advantage of current topics of interest to students and to develop learning experiences that cross different subject areas.
- There is greater focus on communication, creative/critical thinking, positive personal and cultural identity and social responsibility as core competencies.
- Aboriginal perspectives and content are integrated into all subjects.
- There is an emphasis on core foundational skills while focusing on higher-level conceptual thinking.
CHANGES TO ASSESSMENT AND EXAMS
Beginning in the 2016-17 school year, changes in curriculum, assessment and graduation requirements are being phased in for students in Grades 10 to 12.
The changes include discontinuing the five current secondary school provincial exams and replacing them with two provincial exams that focus on literacy and math skills – the key subjects post-secondary institutions look to for admissions.
Provincial exams for Science 10, Social Studies 11, Language Arts 10 and Math 10 will no longer be used and will be replaced by classroom assessments.
There will be overlap between the previous grad program and the new one, and therefore a transition period to account for students progressing toward graduation under different scenarios. Students entering Grade 10 in the 2017-18 school year will be the first group where the new requirements apply entirely.
Grade 10 students will:
- Follow most of the current Graduation Program requirements
- Take a Math 10, a Language Arts 10 and Science 10, with classroom assessments instead of provincial exams.
- Meet Social Studies graduation requirements with classroom assessments.
- Write a provincial math skills exam and provincial literacy exam before graduation.
Grade 11 students will:
- Have completed a Math 10, a Language Arts 10 and Science 10 or equivalent and written the provincial exams.
- Meet Social Studies graduation requirements with classroom assessments instead of a provincial exam.
- Write a provincial literacy exam before graduation.
- Not write the new provincial math skills exam.
Grade 12 students will:
- Finish all the current graduation program requirements
- Have completed a Math 10, a Language Arts 10 a Science 10 and Social Studies 11 (or equivalent) and written the provincial exams.
- Take Language Arts 12 and write the associated provincial exam
- Not write the new provincial literacy or math skills exams
- Students who have completed courses associated with discontinued exams by June 30, 2016 will have until June 2017 to write or re-write exams.
- Students taking summer school during July and / or August 2016 will not be required to write provincial exams in Math 10,
- Language Arts 10, Science 10 and Social Studies 11 (or equivalent.)
In the 2016-17 year only, there will be no changes to the Language Arts/English 12 provincial exams. They will run as scheduled, aligned with the prior curriculum, not the new one.
The provincial government has provided this chart to help clarify requirements for students entering Grades 10 to 12 in the 2016-17 transition school year:
To graduate, students will still need to complete 80 credits and write two provincial exams. That hasn’t changed. Further details about the new path to graduation can be found here.
For younger students, standardized tests of reading, writing and numeracy (called Foundation Skills Assessment or FSAs) will still take place in Grades 4 and 7.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
The Ministry of Education has a wealth of plain-language information about the new curriculum on its Building Student Success website. Some specific links parents may find helpful are: