Opportunity for input toward new vision for student learning in Alberta

 

 

Fast Facts: New draft Ministerial Order on Student Learning

  • Once finalized, this Ministerial Order will be the new foundational vision document guiding K-12 education in Alberta, replacing the one put in place in May 2013

  • This short 1.5 page document is of paramount importance, empowering the Minister and her staff to set a new vision for education in Alberta.  

  • To gather feedback on the draft, a public survey has been launched, along with virtual engagement sessions (access links provided below).
  • We urge as many PCE supporters as possible to engage in this process and provide input to help inform the final version of the Ministerial Order.
  • As stated in the survey introduction:"The Government of Alberta committed to repealing Ministerial Order #001/2013 and replacing it with a new Ministerial Order on Student Learning that will outline a vision for student learning in Alberta. This is part of government’s commitment to end the focus on “discovery” or “inquiry” learning also known as “constructivism” and focus on providing students with a strong foundation of essential skills and knowledge to succeed in life."
  • Vision statements are meant to be aspirational, forward-thinking, goal-oriented and clearly understandable, communicating “big picture” direction and not meant to be overly prescriptive or highly detailed.

  • You can review the draft Ministerial Order as part of the survey process outlined below, or you can access a PDF here.

  • For those seeking support in providing feedback (whether through the survey or virtual engagement sessions), PCE has given some suggestions below to draw from as you are thinking about how you would like to respond.

 

Public survey info

 

In-person sessions - Calgary & Edmonton

 

Virtual engagement sessions

OPTION #1: Pre-register for any of the remaining sessions by clicking on the date and time that works best for you:  

 

OPTION #2: Tune-in directly using the access links below, during the specified dates and times.  Remember to copy/paste the direct access link into your calendar for the specified date/time so you don't lose it. 


NOTE: In preparation to join your Zoom session, please open the link provided at least 5 to 10 minutes prior to the session start time. You will be asked to run the Zoom launcher. Click accept and run the software.

When installation is complete, follow the instructions on the screen. To sign in you will be asked for your email (any email format will be accepted, for example you can use a@a.com) and your name (how you would like to be identified in the session).

You may also choose to download the mobile Zoom app from the APP Store or Google Play. If you choose to use the mobile app please note you will need to provide the "meeting number" which is the 9 digit number code in each of the links provided above.  

 

 

PCE’s feedback on draft Ministerial Order 

Each person’s responses to this survey will be specific to their personal experience and understanding of student learning.  Parents for Choice in Education offers some suggestions below to draw from as you are thinking about how you would like to respond. 

 

Questions 1 through 8: 

  • Demographic questions specific to your situation.

 

Question 9 (Does the draft Ministerial Order reflect a vision for an education system that all Albertans can be proud of?) 

  • PCE response: Somewhat agree
  • Reason: This new draft Ministerial Order for Student Learning is a tremendous improvement over the version currently in use. However, there are still concerns in the wording that will hopefully be resolved before the document is finalized.

 

Question 10 (re: “Vision for Student Learning”)

  • PCE response: Strongly agree or somewhat agree

 

Question 11 (re: “Foundations for Learning”)

  • PCE response: Strongly agree or somewhat agree

 

Question 12 (re: “Outcomes for Learning”) 

  • PCE response: Somewhat disagree
  • Reason: We have concerns with the wording in some of the sections under “Outcomes for Learning” as explained in the responses to the next few questions.  

 

Question 13 (re: “Knowledge Development”) 

  • PCE response: Somewhat disagree
  • Reason: First, remove the phrase “essential for life” from the end of the first sentence, as it isn’t up to the government to decide what is essential for life for every student in the province.  The priorities families may set for their children will vary depending on a child’s needs (academic, behavioural, cultural, faith, interests, etc.). Instead, the sentence should end with the word “concept”.

    Second, insert “At developmentally-appropriate stages” at the beginning of the final sentence. Instead, it should say “At developmentally-appropriate stages, students develop their creativity by exploring new ideas, questioning assumptions, and applying their learning in a variety of life and career situations.”

 

Question 14 (re: “Character Development”) 

  • PCE response: Somewhat disagree
  • Reason: The title of this section is highly problematic and we suggest replacing the title “character development” with “personal development”.

    The emphasis on “character development” can too easily be reduced to a more superficial and arbitrary list of character traits to be checked off as a project in the classroom, rather than focusing on each individual student’s personal development toward academic success. 

    What different students need to improve upon to enhance their learning in the classroom will vary.  By focusing on personal development, these differences are honoured. 

    “Personal development” recognizes that each individual has a unique constellation of learning needs, gifts and areas for growth, which will lead to different personal goals to pursue in the classroom.

 

Question 15 (re: “Community Engagement”) 

  • PCE response: Somewhat disagree
  • Reason: The wording in the second last sentence of this section is extremely problematic. 

    Because “curriculum” refers to specific outcomes prescribed within the Program of Studies, this statement could be interpreted as aiming to develop specific curricular outcomes in relation to all unique family and community identities of students in Alberta (cultural, linguistic, religious, etc) . 

    However, given the diverse, wide range of identities present in our multicultural, pluralistic province, it would not be realistic to suggest that all unique family and community identities could be incorporated in the curriculum.   

    Instead, the curriculum should allow for all students to explore their unique family and community identities.

    Therefore, we would suggest replacing the second last sentence with the following wording: “All children will have the opportunity to explore their unique family and community identities through their learning.”  



Question 16 (Draft of Ministerial Order provides sufficient level of direction?) 

  • PCE response: Somewhat disagree.
  • ReasonOnce the concerns outlined in the previous questions are addressed, this Ministerial Order will provide sufficient direction going forward.

 

Question 17 (Anything not sufficiently addressed that should be included?) 

  • In consideration of the fact that the Ministerial Order for Student Learning is meant as a “big picture” direction and vision for education in Alberta, PCE does not have any further suggestions.  However, if individual respondents have particular additional input, please include it as a response to this question.

 

Question 18 (Anything specific you really liked within the draft Ministerial Order?) 

  • PCE leaves it to the individual respondents of the survey to discern what they liked within the draft Ministerial Order.

 

Question 19 (Any other feedback?) 

  • PCE response: In the preamble before the “Vision for Student Learning” we would recommend adding the word “all” before the word "diversity" near the end of the first sentence so it reads “respect for all diversity”.

 

  • February 18th - Thank you to a PCE supporter for his close comparison between the 2013 Ministerial order and the new draft.  He has just shared with us an important recommendation which we absolutely agree should be included in the feedback provided to Alberta Education:
    • The 2013 Ministerial Order on Student Learning includes the phrase "WHEREAS education in Alberta is based on the values of opportunity, fairness, citizenship, choice, diversity, and excellence"

      The new draft almost mirrors this sentence in the preamble before the "Vision for Student Learning" when it says "Education in Alberta is characterized by the values of equality of opportunity, fairness, strong work ethic, respect for diversity and citizenship"

      Notably, the word "choice" is absent from the new draft and should be added back into that first sentence to ensure it is maintained as a key value of education in Alberta going forward.  

 

Deadline approaching

PCE urges anyone concerned with the direction of education in Alberta to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to provide input on this new Ministerial Order prior to the survey deadline of February, 24, 2020.