Students entering grades 11 and 12 will be the first to test out the new curriculum as it applies to the final two grades of high school.
The roll-out of the new curriculum has been rolled out in three phases – the K-9 curriculum came in September 2016, the Grade 10 curriculum came in September 2018 and now, in September 2019, grades 11 and 12 are getting their new curriculum.
Maureen McRae-Stanger, New Westminster School District’s director of instruction, learning and innovation, said the district is looking forward to having a consistent curriculum from K-12.
The curriculum is a significant shift from the more traditional model of learning. Instead of absorbing and regurgitating information, students are expected to gain more conceptual knowledge.
“Our new curriculum (is) trying to get kids to think more deeply, to engage in their learning, to make some more personalized choices about what they’re learning,” McRae-Stanger said. “Students are in a real information age, right? How can we use the information at their fingertips to actually free up more time for them to really focus on those deeper understandings and problem solving, etc.”
Despite being a couple of years into the new K-9 curriculum and a year into the Grade 10 curriculum, McRae-Stanger said it’s too early to come to any conclusions about its effects.
“Of course we’re going to monitor those results carefully and see the trends and where things are going,” McRae-Stanger said. “(But) it’s going to take time for students and teachers to adapt to this new change and to be able to actually look at those trends over time. We need to look at maybe five years worth of data to see where we’re at.”
Over that time, as well, McRae-Stanger said district staff will have to keep fine-tuning teaching practices to find the right ways to present the new curriculum.
“It’s a different approach to the curriculum. We’ve been working a lot on providing professional development to our teachers around the curriculum changes, around how to assess students around competencies instead of only assessing on content,” she said.
That being said, the roll-out in the earlier years of education has had a “great start,” McRae-Stanger said. That’s in part because the conceptual part of learning has always been a keystone to elementary school learning, while older grades have further to go to meet the new curriculum.
Grade 11 students will have been adopted into the new curriculum in Grade 10, giving them a bit of an advantage over Grade 12 students, who missed the K-9 and Grade 10 roll-outs.
“It might be a little bit different for them, but again, it’s going to take time to fully implement all the aspects of the new curriculum,” McRae-Stanger said.
But educators have known, to some degree, what’s been coming down the pike for years – the grade 11 and 12 curriculum has been online in draft format for about three years, with changes added over time. McRae-Stanger said the district has been encouraging teachers to test out the new curriculum in that time.
“I think (teachers) are excited and they’re ready to start the process,” she said.