Northwest Territories to stop using Alberta curriculum, will adopt B.C.’s

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The government of the Northwest Territories confirmed Thursday it will be using British Columbia’s JK-12 school curriculum.

Until this decision, the NWT had been using Alberta’s curriculum. In fact, the Opposition NDP said the NWT used Alberta’s curriculum in schools for more than 40 years.

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In March, the NDP said the NWT was preparing to drop Alberta’s curriculum due to “the widely-criticized rewrite by Jason Kenney’s UCP government.”

At the time, the NWT said no decisions about curriculum had been made.

In a news release Thursday, the NWT government said it decided to partner with B.C. after “extensive research, analysis, and more than 40 consultation and engagement sessions with Indigenous governments, education bodies, the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association (NWTTA) and educators.”

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The territory’s education department started researching the curriculum of western Canadian provinces in 2019 “to determine which most aligned with 34 longstanding NWT education priorities.”

In the news release, the government described B.C.’s curriculum as “modern, student-centred” and “competencies-based.”


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It went on to say: “B.C.’s curriculum was very clearly the most aligned to the NWT, as it is one of the first in Canada to focus on competencies-based learning; is modernized to meet the needs of students in an ever-changing world; incorporates financial literacy; begins providing career education in the early grades; and offers applied design, skills and technologies curriculum that builds on students’ natural curiosity, inventiveness and creativity.”

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The NWT news release also pointed out that the B.C. curriculum “crucially” integrates “Indigenous worldviews, knowledge and perspectives … in a meaningful and intentional way.”

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“British Columbia’s redesigned curriculum aims to personalize learning, making it more student-centred and flexible,” said R.J. Simpson, NWT’s minister of education. “With an emphasis on Indigenous knowledge, and a focus on literacy and numeracy skills, I am confident that this curriculum will benefit all of the NWT’s JK-12 students.”


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“This decision by the Northwest Territories should be a wake-up call for the UCP,” NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman said Thursday. “They’ve now botched Alberta’s draft K-6 curriculum so badly that other jurisdictions are pre-emptively switching just to protect their students.

“This an embarrassing blow to Alberta’s reputation. (Education Minister) Adriana LaGrange needs to explain: if this curriculum is not good enough for students in the Northwest Territories, why should anyone believe it’s good enough for Alberta’s kids?”

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In a statement, the Alberta government said it’s unfortunate the NWT made its decision before Alberta’s draft K-6 curriculum was finalized.

“We understand their decision to move quickly and partner with a province that has a finalized and implemented K-12 curriculum that is currently being taught in classrooms, like British Columbia. In contrast, Alberta is still in the early stages of the K-12 curriculum renewal process,” Alberta Education spokesperson Nicole Sparrow explained.

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“We understand that the NWT are making significant shifts in their education system as part of their efforts to improve student outcomes. After years of declining outcomes here in Alberta, we are doing the exact same thing through our curriculum renewal process.

“While we have been happy to partner with the NWT in the past, Alberta’s government is focused on ensuring Alberta’s students can soon learn from a modern curriculum that prepares them for success. We will continue to listen to all Albertans, including education stakeholders and Indigenous communities to ensure we have the best possible curriculum for our students once the content is finalized and implemented.

“Alberta Education is working closely with First Nation and Métis organizations to ensure their unique perspectives can be heard and their feedback can be reflected in the draft curriculum. To support this important work, grants have been provided to the Blackfoot Confederacy, Confederacy of Treaty Six, Metis Settlements General Council, Stoney Nakoda – Tsuut’ina Tribal Council and Tribal Chiefs Ventures Inc.,” she said.

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The NWT will implement the new curriculum in phases over several years, the government said. Indigenous governments, the NWTTA and education bodies will help with teacher training and adapting classroom resources and assessments.


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