N.W.T. K-12 curriculum change to take 3 to 5 years to implement

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A high school classroom at Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, N.W.T. The territorial government said it will take three to five years to implement a new K-12 curriculum it is adapting from B.C. (CBC - image credit)
A high school classroom at Moose Kerr School in Aklavik, N.W.T. The territorial government said it will take three to five years to implement a new K-12 curriculum it is adapting from B.C. (CBC - image credit)

The N.W.T. government hopes to implement the new K-12 school curriculum within the next three to five years, according to a top official in the Department of Education, Culture and Employment.

Jessica Brace, the director of curriculum development and student assessment, said the department will be consulting with education stakeholders across the territory, including Indigenous governments and the NWT Teachers' Association, to talk about the best ways to implement the new curriculum.

The territorial government announced on Dec. 16 that it will base its K-12 curriculum on British Columbia's after basing it mostly on Alberta's curriculum for the past 40 years.

"We looked at Alberta as well as B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and based on our own identified priorities for education in the North, one of them being Indigenous perspectives being really high on that list," said Brace. "It was pretty clear that British Columbia, the newest modern curriculum, was very much more aligned with what we were looking for."

She said the three- to five-year time frame will give the education department the time to adapt the B.C. curriculum to the northern context, work with school boards and make sure teachers are trained and have what they need to teach the new curriculum.

Competency-based curriculum

Brace said one of the biggest changes in the curriculum is that it will be based on the competencies students acquire rather than just learning outcomes.

She explained that learning outcomes are based on what is taught and tested in classrooms while having a competency-based curriculum adds abilities "that you want to have grow in students so that they're able to be capable in whatever they're doing in their lives."

She said it deepens the learning for students.

"And it's something that we're excited to see happen in our schools that we haven't quite had yet," she said.

N.W.T.-created curriculum

Brace said that while the territory doesn't have the resources to develop all of its own curriculum for K-12 students, it has and will continue to develop some of it.

When it announced the curriculum change, the territorial government said it would keep N.W.T.-created curriculum such as Our Languages, Northern Studies, Health and Wellness, Hunter Education and Junior Kindergarten/Kindergarten.

It also noted foundational curriculum in Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit, which weave Dene and Inuit core concepts, language and traditions into teachings in N.W.T. classrooms, will remain in schools.

Brace said the territory will also continue to use its award-winning curriculum on residential schools.

She said what the territory often does is adapt curriculum from western provinces and adapt it to fit the northern context.

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