No interest in pilot project

HPSD joins growing list of boards opposing curriculum

Richard Froese
South Peace News

High Prairie School Division has declined to take part in a pilot project for the draft updated K-6 school curriculum in 2021-22.

Both the pilot project and draft curriculum have drawn concern from teachers, parents and other groups, says an HPSD news release May 6.

“With no schools or teachers interested in piloting the proposed curriculum and the knowledge that we would still be able to provide valuable feedback, the board did not pursue the matter further,” board chair Steve Adams says.

“The board weighed all of the community and school feedback, aggregated data from administration and information from the meetings with our MLAs.”

Trustee discussed the project at its monthly board meeting April 21 when it tabled a decision.

Schools divisions had a deadline to decide by May 7.

News reports state that the pilot project has been turned down by school divisions that represent 75 per cent of students in Alberta.

The board discussed the project with Lesser Slave Lake MLA Pat Rehn, Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen and Peace River MLA Dan Williams in the last week of April.

“MLAs confirmed that our division staff would be able to provide valuable feedback on the proposed curriculum, regardless of whether we piloted it or not,” Adams says.

During the meeting April 21, some trustees were concerned that the division would not be able to provide feedback to the government if it did not take part in the pilot.

He says the board is committed to give teachers time to study and review the proposed curriculum next year with grade-level groups.

“Our teachers would be able to provide sound feedback to the government about the areas the government is looking for such as literacy, numeracy, citizenship and practical skills,” Adams says.

The board will also hold engagement sessions with stakeholders to receive comments on the proposed curriculum to the government.

Trustees have also stated that the new curriculum would add to the challenges of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic that started in March 2020.

“Our board is concerned about the amount of work this will ask of our already overtaxed teachers,” Adams says.

“Further, we feel students have missed learning over the past year and piloting a new curriculum could set them back further.”

The board and administration have also heard concerns raised by parents and community members.

Parents are voicing concerns and question some content for the various grades, Adams says.

During discussion at the board meeting April 21, High Prairie trustee Adrian Wong and Falher-area trustee Karin Scholl said they heard many parents threaten to pull their students from HSPD schools if the division participates in the pilot.

First Nations, Métis settlements and francophone communities have stated that the curriculum lacks accurate, authentic material of their cultures and values, Adams says.

HPSD operates schools in the High Prairie, Slave Lake and Falher regions.

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