A review of the Alberta School Act has been launched with proposed changes to improve students.
New legislation under the School Amendment Act would ensure that students and communities benefit in the education system, states a government news release dated Nov. 15.
“If proclaimed, amendments would align this legislation with our government’s education priorities, including increasing student success, ensuring equitable access to education and closing the gap between First Nations students and all other students in the province,” Education Minister David Eggen says.
“The School Act has served Alberta’s students well for almost three decades, and I am confident that it will continue to do so for many years.”
Proposed amendments to the School Act would:
-Authorize the minister to establish standards for education service agreements between First Nations and school boards to help close the achievement gap for Indigenous students.
-Specify that students must be five years of age by Dec. 31 of the school year to join kindergarten so students entering school are ready.
-Ensure the government can provide clear and updated transportation eligibility criteria before the 2018-19 school year.
If passed, the majority of amendments would come into force immediately, while some changes would start later.
For example, the common age of entry into kindergarten would be implemented in September 2020.
Education partners support the proposed changes.
“Modernizing the School Act will help school authorities to provide learning experiences for students that are rooted in basics and reflective of research-proven teaching strategies and advances in use of technology,” says Chris MacPhee, president of the College of Alberta School Superintendents.
“This will provide continued assurance for parents and communities about the strength of Alberta’s education system.”
The Alberta School Boards Association is pleased to see the input provided by school boards during the recent consultation process reflected in many of these proposed amendments.
“The establishment of a common age of entry for students entering kindergarten, the introduction of standard requirements for education service agreements and the removal of the school transportation distance eligibility limit are all examples of ways in which these amendments will provide greater certainty and consistency across the province and support for Alberta families,” says president Mary Martin.
Teachers also endorse proposed changes.
“Updated practice standards will ensure that teachers have clear, consistent and modern benchmarks to guide their practice and inform their professional growth,” says Alberta Teachers’ Association president Greg Jeffery.
“We eagerly await the approval of all three practice standards, which will serve to enhance public confidence in the quality of Alberta’s schools.”