Skip to main content

Full text of "Our students, our future : an introduction to education in Alberta, kindergarten to grade 12"

See other formats


Students,  our 


1/  iJ  I  .,./    /„.;  Li. ' 


to  Education 

Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 
in  2015 



Alberta's  Commitment 

Universal  Public  Education 
Key  Principles 




Partners  in  Education 

Roles  and  Responsibilities 



Fair  and  Equitable  Funding 

Education  Property  Taxes 



Opportunities  for  Choice  in  Education 

Public  Education  System 


Public  Schools 
Separate  Schools 
Francophone  Schools 
Charter  Schools 
Alternative  Programs 
Home  Education 
Blended  Programs 
Virtual  Programs 

Private  Schools  11 
Special  Education  Private  Schools  11 

Board  Responsibilities  and  Parent  Choice  12 
Residency  12 
School  Bussing  13 

V:     Out-of-Province  Students 

Transfers  from  Other  Provinces  and  Countries  13 
International  Students  13 

VI:   A  Solid  Foundation 

Provincial  Co-operation 
Basic  Programs 

Kindergarten  and  Special  Needs  Pre-School  Programs  14 
Grades  1  to  6  15 

Grades  7  to  9 


Grades  10  to  12 


The  School  Year 


Other  Programs 
Fine  Arts 

EngUsh  as  a  Second  Language 
Students  with  Special  Needs 





Board  Responsibility 
Student  Placement 

Individualized  Program  Plans 

VII:  Preparing  Students  for  the  Future 

Technology  Learning  18 

Career  and  Technology  Studies  (CTS)  19 

Off-campus  Education  20 

Outreach  Programs  20 

VIII:  Meeting  High  Standards 

High  School  Graduation  Requirements  20 

Diploma  Exams  21 

Provincial  Achievement  Tests  22 

Report  Cards  22 

National  and  International  Achievement  Testing  23 

IX:   Quality  Teaching 

Standards  23 
Requirements  23 



This  publication  explains  the  ABCs  of  the  school  system  in  Alberta:  its  goals, 
various  levels  of  responsibility,  funding,  public  and  private  schooling,  academic 
core  and  optional  programs,  home  education,  testing,  high  school  diploma 
requirements,  programs  for  students  with  special  needs,  and  programs  for 
students  from  other  countries.  It  also  covers  such  basics  as  school  entrance  age, 
the  length  of  the  school  year,  holidays,  school  fees  and  bussing. 

This  guide  is  useful  for  parents,  providing  them  with  the  information  they 
may  need  to  make  the  best  educational  choices  for  their  children.  Alberta  today 
offers  more  schooling  options  than  ever  before.  The  opportunity  for  choice 
reflects  the  Alberta  government's  commitment  to  quality  education — the 
solid  foundation  every  child  needs  to  learn,  grow  and  succeed. 

Our  Students,  our  future  is  intended  to  serve  as  a  general 
introduction  to  education  in  Alberta  from  kindergarten  to  grade  12. 
More  detailed  information  on  specific  areas  or  programs  can  be 
obtained  from  other,  complementary  resources  published  by  Alberta  Education 



Universal  Public  Education 

Under  the  Canadian  Constitution,  each  province  and  territory  has  exclusive 
jurisdiction  over  education.  Each  system  reflects  the  diversity  of  the  region's 
unique  historical  and  cultural  heritage. 

Public  education  is  provided  free  of  charge  to  all  Canadian  citizens  and 
permanent  residents  under  20  years  of  age  until  the  end  of  secondary  school.  In 
Alberta,  students  are  legally  required  to  attend  school  from  ages  6  to  16. 

Our  public  education  system  includes  public,  separate,  francophone  and 
charter  schools,  as  well  as  alternative  programs  and  virtual  programs  offered  by 
school  boards,  and  home  education.  Public  and  separate  school  boards  operate  the 
basic  education  system  in  the  province  —  the  universal  system  accessible  to 
everyone.  Separate  school  boards  administer  Roman  Catholic  and  Protestant 
separate  schools.  In  Alberta,  the  minority  Roman  Catholic  or  Protestant  faith  has 
the  right  to  form  its  own  school  system. 

Key  Principles 

k  hi 

The  MhertSi  School  Act  contains  five  fundamental  principles  that  define  a 
first-rate  education  for  every  child  in  this  province: 

Access  to  quality  education  -  Every  student  has  the  right  of  access  to  a 
quality  basic  education  that  is  consistent  with  the  student's  abilities  and 
provides  the  knowledge,  skills  and  attitudes  to  be  a  self-reliant, 
responsible,  caring  and  contributing  member  of  society. 

Equity  -  All  students  have  equal  access  to  a  quality  basic  education 
regardless  of  where  in  the  province  they  live. 

Flexibility  and  choice  -  Parents  and  students  have  opportunities  to 
choose  schools  and  programs  in  the  public  education  system,  within 
standards  and  policies  set  by  the  provincial  government.  School  boards 
are  expected  to  meet  the  educational  needs  of  the  students  and 
communities  they  serve. 

Responsiveness  -  The  student  is  the  focus  of  the  education  system. 
Legislation,  policies  and  practices  support  communities  in  delivering  school  programs 
and  services  that  are  responsive  to  the  unique  needs  of  each  child. 

Accountability  -  All  those  involved  in  making  decisions  about  educational 
matters  —  from  the  Minister  to  school  boards  and  staff,  parents  and  students 
—  must  be  accountable  for  their  decisions. 

The  School  Act  establishes  the  relationship  of  the  Minister  of  Education  to 
students,  parents  and  school  boards.  It  enables  the  Minister  to  prescribe  courses 
and  programs  of  study,  instructional  time  and  materials,  and  educational  standards 
such  as  high  school  graduation  requirements. 

The  School  Act  also  defines  the  roles  and  responsibilities  of  school  authorities, 
superintendents,  principals  and  teachers,  as  well  as  a  code  of  conduct  for  students. 


Roles  and  Responsibilities 

Everyone  -  from  parents  to  students,  the  community,  business,  government, 
teachers  and  administrators  —  has  an  important  and  co-operative  role  to  play  in 
public  education.  The  Government  of  Alberta  encourages  a  broad  range  of 
community  consultation  and  involvement  with  the  school  system  to  enhance 
learning  opportunities  for  children  and  to  meet  their  education  needs. 


Assume  responsibilities  and  make  choices  about  their  learning  and  career 

paths,  according  to  their  level  of  maturity. 
^  Complete  their  homework  and  study  assignments  diligently. 
\^  Follow  the  code  of  conduct  of  their  school  and  the  School  Act. 
^  Contribute  to  a  safe  and  caring  climate  in  their  school. 
^  Contribute  to  the  accomplishments  of  their  school. 

Provide  students  with  the  instruction  they  need  to  achieve  learning 
expectations  for  each  grade  and  subject  as  outlined  in  the  Alberta 
Programs  of  Study. 

Foster  and  encourage  learning. 

Stay  up-to-date  on  curriculum  and  teaching  methods. 

^  Evaluate  students  and  periodically  report  the  results  to  students, 
parents  and  the  board. 

^  Maintain  discipline  among  students  at  school  and  during  school-approved  activities. 

^  Contribute  to  school  decision  making. 

^  May  be  involved  in  school  extra-curricular  activities,  and  with  committees  for 
curriculum,  student  evaluation,  field  testing  and  evaluating  new  courses, 
instructional  materials  and  assessment  materials. 

Note:  See  section  on  Quality  Teaching  on  page  23. 


Provide  instructional  leadership,  and  administer  the  school  within  the 
policies  of  the  school  board  and  with  the  advice  of  the  school  council. 

^    Maintain  order  and  discipline  in  the  school,  on  the  school  grounds  and  during 
board-sponsored  or  approved  activities. 

^  Promote  co-operation  between  the  school  and  the  community  it  serves. 

^  Supervise  the  evaluation  and  advancement  of  students. 

^  Evaluate  teachers  employed  in  the  school. 

\^  Ensure  teaching  assignments  are  the  best  possible  match  with  teacher  skills. 


The  Government  of  Alberta  promotes 
school-based  decision  making  to 
ensure  local  needs  and  priorities  are 

met.  Since  1994,  schools  have  been 

given  considerable  flexibility  on 

decision  making.  Schools  may  advise 
their  local  board  or  make  their  ovm 
policy  and  budget  decisions.  This 

varies  from  board  to  board. 


\^  Foster  a  positive  attitude  towards  learning  in  their  children. 

^  Encourage  their  children  to  achieve  their  potential  at  school  and  to  be 
actively  involved  in  their  school. 

^  Make  decisions  regarding  their  children's  education,  including  choice  of 
schools  and  programs. 

\^  Make  sure  their  children  come  to  school  ready  to  learn. 

)^  Familiarize  themselves  with  learning  expectations  for  the  different  subjects  in 
their  children's  grade  level,  and  with  school  policies  and  regulations. 

^  Maintain  an  ongoing  communication  with  teachers  and  the  school. 

^  Check  their  children's  school  work  to  make  sure  assignments  are  completed 
properly,  and  help  them  develop  good  study  habits. 

Initiate  learning  activities  at  home. 

May  volunteer  time  to  their  children's  school(s) ;  participate  in  field  trips  and  other 
extracurricular  activities,  act  as  a  classroom  resource  or  serve  on  the  school  council. 

School  Councils 

1^   Allow  parents  and  the  community  to  actively  participate  in  their  local  school. 

^  May  function  differently  from  one  school  and  jurisdiction  to  another. 

Involvement  can  range  from  minimal  to  active,  collaborative  decision  making 
on  school  policies  and  goals. 

^  May  advise  the  principal  and  school  board  on:  school  policies  (such  as 
discipline  and  fundraising),  program  development  (such  as  extra-curricular 
activities,  new  programs  and  resources),  budgets,  use  of  achievement  tests  to 
improve  student  learning,  and  methods  of  reporting  student  progress  (for 
example,  report  cards). 

Each  council  develops  and  defines  its  role. 

The  School  Act  requires  each  school  to  have  a  school  council. 


^  Work  with  schools  to  create  a  rich  learning  environment,  responsive  to 
community  needs. 

^  Contribute  volunteer  time  and  resources  to  school  programs,  extra-curricular 
activities  and  fundraising  initiatives. 

Serve  on  school  councils. 

^  Create  true  partnerships  in  the  development  of  specific  programs,  such  as 
work  experience  and  study  programs. 

School  Boards 

^  Are  made  up  of  trustees  elected  during  municipal  elections  for  three-year 
terms.  Ihistees  are  collectively  responsible  for  pohcy  decisions  made  by  the 
school  board. 

1^  Ensure  resident  students  are  provided  with  an  education  program 
consistent  with  the  School  Act  and  provincial  regulations. 

Implement  the  Alberta  Programs  of  Study  set  by  the  Minister  of 

^  Provide  optional  programs  in  response  to  community  and  student 
interests  and  needs. 

Supervise  schools  vdthin  their  jurisdiction. 

Approve  the  hiring,  promotion  and  dismissal  of  teachers  and  administrators. 

^  Allocate  school  budgets  fairly  and  equitably  v^thin  provincial  government 

Arrange  transportation  for  students  according  to  provincial  regulations. 

^  Set  district  policies  consistent  with  provincial  policies  in  areas  such  as  the 
school  year. 

Provide  for  the  professional  development  of  staff. 

^  Serve  as  the  chief  executive  officer  and  chief  education  officer  of  the  board 
and  of  the  school  jurisdiction. 

^  Provide  leadership  in  all  matters  relating  to  education  in  the  district  or  division 

^  Implement  education  pohcies  established  by  the  Minister  of  Education. 

Ensure  responsible  fiscal  management  in  keeping  with  legislation 
and  regulations. 

^  Execute  school  board  decisions. 

Hired  by  local  boards,  subject  to  the  Minister  of  Education's  approval,  for  a 
term  of  up  to  five  years,  which  can  be  renewed. 

Alberta  Education 

^  Carries  out  the  provincial  government's  constitutional  responsibility  for 
education  under  the  direction  of  the  Minister  of  Education. 

Establishes  legislation,  policies  and  long-range  plans  for  education  programs. 

^  Sets  curriculum  and  provincial  standards  for  student  achievement  and 
teacher  certification. 

Ensures  school  jurisdictions  get  an  equitable  share  of  the  education  budget. 

^  Assesses  and  reports  to  the  government  and  public  on  student  achievement, 
costs  and  other  important  matters  related  to  education. 

^  Evaluates  results  achieved  by  schools  and  school  boards  across  Alberta. 

Helps  schools  and  school  boards  fulfil  their  obligations,  including  provincial 
policies  and  expectations. 


The  Government  of  Alberta  distributes  education  dollars  as  fairly  as 
possible  to  provide  all  students  with  a  quality  education  wherever  they  live  in  the 
province.  Public  education  is  funded  through  provincial  general  revenues  and 
education  property  taxes. 

Funding  is  allocated  to  school  boards  in  three  blocks:  instruction, 
support  and  capital.  The  majority  of  funding  is  distributed  on  a  per  student 
basis.  Every  school  board  receives  the  same  amount  per  student  for  basic 
instruction.  Additional  funds  are  provided,  depending  on  student  needs 
(programming  for  students  with  severe  disabilities,  English  as  a  Second 
Language  and  so  on),  sparse  student  population  (in  rural  areas), 
transportation  needs  and  other  non-instructional  costs. 

Instructional  funding  to  local  boards  for  grades  1  to  9  is  based  on 
school  enrolments  as  of  September  30.  Funding  for  students  in  senior 
high  courses  is  calculated  on  a  per  credit  basis  according  to  the 
number  of  courses  completed. 

Education  Property  Taxes 

Education  property  taxes  support  public  and  separate  school  students  in 
grades  1  to  12.  They  are  mostly  used  for  instruction,  including  teacher  salaries. 

textbooks  and  other  classroom  resources.  Education  property  taxes  are  not  used  to 
fund  capital  expenditures  such  as  school  construction  or  renovations,  private 
schools,  teachers'  pensions  or  Department  of  Education  operations. 

All  residential  and  non-residential  property  owners  pay  education  property  taxes 
whether  or  not  they  have  children  in  school.  Anyone  who  rents  or  leases  property  also 
pays  property  taxes  indirectly  through  his  or  her  monthly  rent  or  lease  payments. 

Roman  Catholic  property  owners  who  live  in  an  area  with  a  Catholic  separate 
school  board  must  direct  their  taxes  to  that  board.  Protestant  property  owners  who 
live  in  St.  Albert  where  there  is  a  Protestant  separate  school  board  must  direct 
their  taxes  to  that  board.  (See  section  on  Residency)  For  more  information  on 
declaring  or  changing  school  board  support,  contact  the  local  municipal  office. 


Parents  have  a  wide  range  of  options  to  choose  from  within  the  public 
education  system:  public  schools,  separate  schools,  francophone  schools,  charter 
schools  —  as  well  as  alternative  programs  and  virtual  programs  offered  by  school 
boards  —  and  home  education.  They  may  also  choose  to  send  their  children  to 
private  schools.  The  Alberta  government  supports  choice  in  education  to  ensure 
student  and  community  needs  are  met. 

Public  Education  System 

Public  Schools 

Public  schools  provide  basic,  universal  education.  They  offer  the  Alberta 
Programs  of  Study  as  well  as  optional  programs  and  courses  that  may  vary  from  one 
school  and  school  jurisdiction  to  another. 

Separate  Schools 

Separate  schools  can  be  either  Roman  Catholic  or  Protestant.  In  Alberta,  the 
majority  of  separate  schools  are  Roman  Catholic.  The  first  responsibility  of  separate 
boards  is  to  provide  a  basic  education  for  Roman  Catholic  or  Protestant  students 
within  their  jurisdiction.  Roman  Catholic  or  Protestant  students  do  not  have  to  attend 
separate  schools  within  their  jurisdiction.  However,  Roman  Catholic  property  owners 
who  live  in  an  area  with  a  Roman  Catholic  separate  school  system  must  designate 
their  education  property  taxes  to  that  system  (see  section  on  Education  Property 
Taxes).  Separate  schools  are  funded  on  the  same  basis  as  public  schools. 

Any  student  may  enrol  in  a  separate  school  if  there  is  sufficient  space  and 
resources.  Non-Catholic  or  non-Protestant  parents  may  choose  to  send  their  child  to  a 
separate  school  because  of  the  program  it  offers  (for  example,  a  bilingual  program). 

Francophone  Schools 

Under  the  1982  Canadian  Charter  of  Rights  and  Freedom,  parents  whose  first 
language  is  French  have  the  constitutional  right  to  have  their  child  educated  in  French, 
where  numbers  warrant.  They  also  have  the  right  to  govern  these  schools  themselves. 
There  are  a  number  of  francophone  regional  authorities  operating  schools  in  Alberta. 

Charter  Schools 

Charter  schools  were  established  to  encourage  innovative  approaches  to 
improve  student  learning  by  offering  unique  or  enhanced  education  programs, 
teaching  methods  or  learning  environments,  not  available  in  the  regular  system. 
These  schools  are  established  only  when  there  is  significant  community  support, 
and  parents  must  be  active  partners  in  the  school. 

Charter  schools  follow  the  Alberta  Programs  of  Study,  and  students  are  required 
to  write  provincial  achievement  tests  and  grade  12  diploma  exams.  They  can  not  be 
affiliated  with  a  religious  faith  or  denomination  except  when  the  school  is  established 
by  a  separate  school  board.  They  may  offer  religious  instruction  as  may  any  other 
public  or  separate  school  under  the  School  Act.  Charter  schools  are  run  on  a  non- 
profit basis  and  any  student  may  enrol  as  long  as  space  and  resources  are  available. 

Alternative  Programs 

School  boards  may  establish  alternative  programs  that  emphasize  a  particular 
language,  culture,  religion  or  subject  matter,  or  use  a  particular  teaching 
philosophy  These  are  not  special  education  programs  or  religious  education 
programs  offered  by  separate  school  boards. 

There  are  many  alternative  school  programs  across  the  province,  including  the 
NelUe  McClung  Junior  High  for  girls.  Logos  Christian  School,  Taknud  Torah  School,  the 
Alberta  High  School  for  the  Fine  Arts,  and  the  Mandarin  CMnese  bilingual  program. 

Home  Education 

Parents  may  choose  to  educate  their  children  at  home,  entirely  or  in  part,  provided 
they  meet  the  requirements  of  the  School  Act  and  the  Home  Education  Regulation. 

The  provincial  government  gives  boards  and  accredited  private  schools  a  per 
student  grant  for  supervising  home  education  students.  Parents  receive  50  per  cent 
of  this  grant  for  the  purchase  of  programs  of  study  and  instructional  materials. 
Parents  do  not  have  to  use  the  Alberta  Programs  of  Study.  They  can  choose  the 

curriculum,  resources  and  teaching  methods  consistent  with  their  beliefs,  but  they 
must  ensure  their  children  are  receiving  an  education  that  meets  provincial  standards. 

Blended  Programs 

Through  blended  programs,  parents  may  educate  their  children  at  home  for 
part  of  the  day  and  send  them  to  school  for  the  rest  of  their  instruction.  They  may 
decide  to  teach  the  subjects  they  feel  most  capable  of  handling  while  the  rest  are 
taught  by  the  school  (at  least  50  per  cent  of  the  student's  program  in  grades  1  to  9 
and  at  least  20  per  cent  in  grades  10  to  12  must  be  taught  in  school). 

Virtual  Programs 

An  education  program  may  be  delivered  electronically  to  a  student.  Virtual 
programs  must  provide  elementary  and  junior  high  students  with  950  hours  of 
instruction  and  senior  high  students  with  1,000  hours.  They  can  be  delivered  by 
Internet,  fax  or  telephone  conferencing. 

Private  Schools 

Parents  may  choose  to  educate  their  children  outside  the  public  education  system, 
and  in  doing  so  may  be  responsible  for  some  or  all  of  the  costs.  Private  schools  may  charge 
tuition  fees  and  other  fees  as  required.  Under  current  provincial  legislation,  money  collected 
for  education  through  property  taxes  must  only  be  used  to  fimd  the  public  education  system. 

There  are  two  kinds  of  private  schools  in  the  province:  registered  and  accredited. 

Registered  private  schools  do  not  have  to  offer  the  Alberta  Programs  of 
Study  or  employ  teachers  with  teaching  certificates.  Students  can  not  earn  high 
school  credits  toward  an  Alberta  graduation  diploma.  These  schools  are  monitored 
but  not  funded  by  Alberta  Education. 

Accredited  private  schools  follow  the  Alberta  Programs  of  Study  and  employ 
teachers  with  Alberta  teaching  certificates.  Students  write  provincial  achievement 
tests  and  diploma  exams,  and  may  earn  high  school  diplomas.  Accredited  schools 
are  monitored  by  Alberta  Education  and  may  receive  some  provincial  general 
revenue  funding  for  instruction  if  they  are  operated  by  a  non-profit  society  or 
corporation.  Private  schools  do  not  receive  funding  for  transportation, 
administrative  support,  school  operation  or  maintenance,  or  for  school  buildings. 
All  accredited,  non-profit  private  schools  are  eligible  for  the  same  level  of  funding 
as  public  schools  for  students  identified  as  having  severe  disabilities. 

Private  schools  set  their  own  criteria  for  enrolment,  often  based  on 
adherence  to  a  particular  religious  faith  or  educational  philosophy. 

Special  Education  Private  Schools 

Parents  of  students  identified  as  having  special  needs  can  choose  to  send 
their  child  to  a  designated  special  education  private  school.  As  of  September  1999, 
these  schools  will  receive  funding  equivalent  to  that  provided  to  public  schools  for 
students  with  mild,  moderate  or  severe  disabilities. 

Board  Responsibilities  and  Parent  Ciioice 


Every  student  is  the  responsibility  of  a  public  or  separate  school  board. 
Residency  is  based  on  geography  and  religion.  Students  are  considered  to  be 
residents  of  the  area  in  which  their  parent(s)  or  guardian(s)  normally  reside.  A 
student  can  only  claim  one  place  of  residency 

In  an  area  where  there  is  a  Roman  Catholic  separate  school  board,  children 
who  have  parents  of  the  Roman  Catholic  faith  are  the  responsibility  of  that  school 
board.  All  other  children  are  the  responsibility  of  the  local  public  school  board.  In 
cases  of  an  interfaith  marriage,  when  one  of  the  parents  is  a  Roman  Catholic,  the 
parents  may  choose  either  board  and  may  make  this  choice  on  a  yearly  basis. 

In  St.  Albert,  where  there  is  a  Protestant  separate  school  board,  children  who 
have  parents  of  the  Protestant  faith  are  the  responsibility  of  that  board.  All  other 
children  are  the  responsibility  of  the  Greater  St.  Albert  Catholic  Regional  Division, 
the  public  board.  In  an  interfaith  marriage,  when  one  of  the  parents  is  Protestant, 
the  parents  may  choose  either  board  and  may  make  this  choice  on  a  yearly  basis. 

Each  local  board  is  responsible  for  providing  an  education  for  each  student 
residing  within  its  jurisdiction.  Boards  may  establish  attendance  boundaries  for 
each  school.  Schools  are  required  to  enrol  students  residing  within  their 
boundaries,  if  the  school  program  is  determined  to  be  suitable  for  the  student  by 
the  board.  Resident  students  are  given  priority  over  non-resident  students  if  there 
are  insufficient  resources  and  facilities  to  accommodate  both. 

Parents  do  not  have  to  send  their  children  to  a  school  in  their  attendance 
area  or  board  jurisdiction.  They  may  enrol  their  children  in  any  school  that  has  the 
resources  and  facilities  to  accommodate  them,  but  they  may  have  to  pay  for 
transportation  or  arrange  their  own.  Parents  may  choose  to  send  their  children  to 
special  programs  offered  by  schools  outside  their  immediate  jurisdiction,  for 
example,  bilingual  or  immersion  programs.  (See  School  Bussing.) 

>u  think  about  this  booklet. 

itive   O  somewhat  informative   O  not  very  informative. 
1   O  the  right  amount   O  not  enough  information. 
)klet  more  informative? 


O  community  member 
administrator  O  district  administrator 



ail  (postage  is  paid  if  mailed  in  Canada), 
luary  1,  1999,  fax  to  780-427-0591). 

province  (within  Canada  or  from  abroad)  should  submit  an  official  statement  of 
previous  standing,  such  as  a  report  card,  to  the  school  they  plan  to  attend.  They 
also  should  ask  the  school  to  arrange  for  the  transfer  of  their  previous  school 
records  and  transcripts.  Students  coming  into  the  province  from  outside  Canada 
should  bring  copies  of  course  outlines  and  content  as  well  as  information  on  how 
their  last  evaluation  was  determined,  if  possible. 

The  principal  will  place  the  student  in  the  appropriate  grade  after  carefully 
considering  a  number  of  factors  including  the  student's  records,  test  results  and 
age.  In  senior  high  schools,  the  principal  also  determines  which  credits  to 
recommend  for  students.  Placement  requirements  can  vary  from  school  to  school. 

International  Students 

International  students  —  students  whose  parents  are  citizens  of  and  resident 
in  another  country  —  may  enrol  in  Alberta  schools.  Currently,  there  are  no 
provincial  age  guidelines  for  admission.  Requirements  may  vary  among  local 
jurisdictions.  International  students  pay  tuition  fees,  which  vary  from  one 
jurisdiction  to  another. 

Parents  may  make  their  own  arrangements  to  have  their  child  study  at  an 
Alberta  school  or  they  may  apply  under  the  Alberta  International  Student  Program. 
The  program  provides  high  school  students  from  abroad  an  opportunity  to  study  in 

Alberta  schools,  develop  their  English  and  learn  about  Canada.  High  school 
students  may  be  accepted  for  short-term  programs  of  up  to  one  semester,  a  full 
academic  year  or  the  entire  high  school  program. 

Under  the  program,  students  reside  with  a  local  family  carefully  screened  for 
suitability.  The  family  acts  as  the  student's  guardian.  Alberta  Education  provides 
information  about  the  program,  monitors  it  and  accepts  applications.  Acceptance 
into  the  program  depends  on  local  school  board  approval. 

International  Student  Program  costs  include:  tuition  and  incidental  school 
fees,  room  and  board,  transportation,  registration  fee,  health  care  insurance,  visa 
application  and  a  personal  allowance  (about  $300  to  $400  per  month). 

Prospective  students  must  apply  to  a  Canadian  Immigration  office  for  a  student 
authorization  (visa)  in  order  to  gain  admission  to  Canada  for  the  period  of  study 


Provincial  Co-operation 

Although  the  provinces  and  territories  run  their  own  educational 
systems,  they  are  working  together  to  develop  common  goals  and  programs 
in  various  subject  areas. 

Alberta  took  an  knportant  step  in  this  direction  when  it  began 
collaborating  with  Saskatchewan,  Manitoba,  British  Columbia,  the  Yukon 
and  the  Northwest  Territories  on  core  subject  programs.  Since  1996,  the 
four  Western  provinces  and  two  territories  have  been  developing  common 
learning  standards  in  Math,  English  Language  Arts  and  French. 

Basic  Programs 

The  Alberta  Programs  of  Study  set  provincial  standards  for  all 
subjects  and  grades.  School  boards  select  instructional  materials  to  help 
students  achieve  these  standards.  Programs  of  study  have  been  established  for 
elementary,  junior  high  school  and  senior  high  school  students.  Students  must  take 
certain  required  courses  and  may  choose  optional  courses,  which  vary  from  school 
to  school.  Alberta  also  has  an  approved  program  statement  for  kindergarten. 

Kindergarten  and  Special  Needs  Pre-School  Programs 

Early  Childhood  Services  (ECS)  includes  kindergarten  programs  and  pre- 
school programs  for  children  with  mild/moderate  or  severe  disabilities.  Parents 
may  choose  whether  or  not  to  send  their  children  to  ECS  programs. 

ECS  prepares  children  for  entry  into  grade  1.  ECS  programs  may  be 
provided  through  the  public  school  system,  private  schools  or  private,  non- 
profit ECS  programs.  They  must  meet  government  regulations  and  operate 
mth.  certificated  teachers.  The  provincial  kindergarten  program  statement 
outlines  what  children  should  learn  and  be  able  to  achieve  in  kindergarten, 

ECS  funding  is  available  for  children  with  mild/moderate  or  severe 
disabilities.  Approved  ECS  program  operators  can  provide  information 
on  funding  and  age  requirements. 

Grades  1  to  6 

Required  courses:  Language  Arts,  Math,  Science,  Social  Studies, 
Art  and  Music,  Health  and  Physical  Education. 

Optional  courses:  Fifteen  per  cent  of  instructional  time  is  set  aside  for 
optional  subjects,  such  as  French,  Drama  and  Religious  Instruction.  Courses  vary 
from  school  to  school,  according  to  local  needs  and  priorities,  and  parental  input. 

Grades  7  to  9 

Required  courses:  Language  Arts,  Math,  Science,  Social  Studies,  Physical 
Education,  Health  and  Personal  Life  Skills. 

Optional:  Schools  must  offer  two  provincially  authorized  optional  courses 
except  where  instruction  in  a  language  other  than  English  is  offered.  Then  only  one 
provincially  authorized  optional  course  is  required. 

Grades  10  to  12 

High  schools  offer  many  different  choices: 
academic  courses  for  university  admission; 

general  courses  for  students  who  want  to  go  to  a  community  college,  an 
institute  of  technology  or  enter  the  work  force  immediately; 

career  and  technology  studies  courses  to  broaden  learning  experience; 

off-campus  education  courses  for  students  who  want  specialized 
business,  industrial  or  work  experience  training; 

fine  arts  courses  for  students  who  have  a  special  interest  in  music,  art  or  drama. 

Programs  vary  by  district  and  school.  Parents  and  students  should  bear 
students'  future  career  and  study  plans  in  mind  when  choosing  courses.  School 
counsellors  can  be  helpful  in  this  matter. 

Post-secondary  education  (colleges,  universities,  technical  institutions  and 
trade  schools)  is  the  responsibility  of  the  Department  of  Advanced  Education  and 
Career  Development. 

The  School  Year 

The  school  year  usually  extends  from  September  to  June  30  with  minor 
variations  from  system  to  system.  Some  schools  are  now  providing  year-round 
schooling  and  other  alternative  timetables,  and  others  start  their  school  year 
in  August  rather  than  September. 

Most  schools  close  down  for  two  months  of  vacation  in  July  and 
August,  as  well  as  two  weeks  of  Christmas  vacation  and  a  spring  break. 

The  number  of  instructional  days  may  vary  from  190  to  200  days.  In 
junior  high  schools,  the  majority  of  courses  are  offered  for  the  full  school 
year.  Optional  courses  may  be  rotated  on  a  scheduled  basis  throughout  the 
year.  In  senior  high  schools,  courses  may  be  offered  for  the  full  school 
year  or  on  a  semester  basis  (for  half  the  year).  Some  high  schools  now 
offer  a  quarter-system  calendar. 

Other  Programs 

Other  programs  are  available  in  addition  to  basic  education  programs.  They  vary 
from  one  jurisdiction  and  school  to  another,  depending  on  local  interest,  and  may  consist 
of  a  course,  sets  of  courses  or  an  entire  program  of  studies.  They  include:  International 
and  Native  Languages,  Fine  Arts  and  English  as  a  Second  Language  programs. 


To  receive  their  high  school  diploma,  all  students  must  successfully  complete 
an  English  30-level  course. 

Schools  are  not  required  to  teach  a  second  language.  However,  provincial 
curriculum  is  available  for  many  second  languages.  Alberta  Education  supports 
French  programs  to  encourage  all  students  to  learn  Canada's  other  official 
language.  Students  are  also  encouraged  to  learn  other  languages. 

Instruction  is  currently  provided  in  15  languages,  other  than  French,  in  40 
school  boards.  Programs  vary  from  district  to  district  and  school  to  school, 
depending  on  local  interest. 

There  are  three  types  of  language  programs: 

•  immersion  in  which  the  second  language  is  used  for  50  to  100  per  cent  of  the 
school  day  at  the  elementary  level  (ECS  to  grade  6)  and  40  to  80  per  cent  at 
the  secondary  level  (grades  7-12); 

•  bilingual  in  which  the  language  is  used  between  25  to  50  per  cent  of  the  time, 
and  is  used  to  teach  other  subjects  besides  Language  Arts,  such  as  Art, 
Music  and  Social  Studies; 

•  second  language  programs  which  teach  a  particular  language  as  a  course. 

Immersion  programs  are  only  offered  in  French.  They  are  available  in  more 
than  160  Alberta  schools.  Public  and  separate  school  boards  also  have 
francophone  programs,  and  most  schools  in  the  province  offer  French  Second 
Language  programs. 

In  addition  to  French,  provincially  developed  language  programs  are  offered 
in:  Blackfoot,  Cree,  German,  Italian,  Japanese,  Latin,  Spanish  and  Ukrainian. 

Many  school  boards  have  developed  their  own  programs.  Local  language 
programs  include:  Arabic,  Chinese,  Chipewyan,  German,  Hebrew,  Mandarin, 
Polish  and  Portuguese.  Greek,  Hungarian  and  Swedish  are  also  available 
locally,  but  they  are  not  always  offered  every  year. 

Many  school  boards  provide  bussing  for  children  enrolled  in 
language  programs  outside  their  residency  area.  Alberta  Education 
will  fund  this  transportation  service  ff  it  is  provided  by  a  board.  Boards  have 
the  authority  to  charge  fees  to  cover  these  transportation  costs. 

Fine  Arts 

In  grades  1  through  6,  students  take  compulsory  courses  in  Art  and  Music, 
and  learn  dance  as  part  of  Physical  Education.  Many  elementary  schools  also  offer 
Drama  as  an  option. 

Students  in  most  junior  and  senior  high  schools  have  access  to  optional  Art, 
Music  and  Drama  courses.  Some  schools  run  programs  focused  on  Fine  Arts. 

English  as  a  Second  Language 

English  as  Second  Language  (ESL)  instruction  is  offered  to  both  Canadian- 
born  and  foreign-born  students  by  local  boards  in  schools  according  to  need.  Some 
schools  offer  ESL  assistance  in  both  elementary  and  secondary  grades. 

ESL  programs  help  students  learn  English  more  quickly  and  adjust  to  Canadian 
cultural  values,  customs  and  social  expectations.  Students  spend  the  rest  of  the  time 
in  regular  classes.  Students  may  receive  ESL  instruction  for  up  to  three  years. 

students  with  Special  iUeeds 

Board  Responsibility 

Under  the  ScJwolAct,  school  boards  are  required  to  provide  every  resident 
student  with  an  education,  including  access  to  special  education  programs. 
Students  with  special  needs  vary  from  the  gifted  and  talented  to  those  with  mild 
or  moderate  learning  disabilities  and  those  with  severe  disabilities.  Specialized 
learning  programs  provide  individual  students  with  the  educational 
opportunities  they  need.  Parents  are  involved  in  decisions  relating  to 
programs  and  services  for  their  child. 

School  boards  have  their  own  pohcies  on  the  programs  and  services 
they  offer.  These  include  assessment,  placement,  individualized  program 
planning  and  health-related  support  services.  Boards  also  make  decisions 
regarding  class  size,  staffing  levels,  resources  and  materials,  and  fimding 
for  special  programming. 

Student  Placement 

The  policy  of  Alberta  Education  is  that  students  with  special  needs  should  be 
placed  in  regular  classrooms  as  the  first  option  wherever  possible.  Decisions  about 
placement  are  made  by  school  boards  in  consultation  with  parents,  teachers  and 
students.  Ultimately  school  boards  are  responsible  for  making  decisions  that  serve 
the  best  interests  of  all  students. 


Assessments  are  a  board  responsibility  and  may  be  requested  by  the  parent 
and/or  school  staff.  Referring  a  child  for  assessment  does  not  necessarily  mean  s/he 
has  a  long-term  special  education  need.  Assessment  results  are  used  to  develop 
individualized  program  plans. 

Individualized  Program  Plans 

School  boards  must  develop  and  implement  individualized  program  plans  for 
students  identified  as  having  special  needs.  The  plan  is  a  written,  working 
document  that  outlines  the  programming  appropriate  for  a  child's  specific  needs. 
Parents  are  closely  involved  in  the  development  and  implementation  of  the  plan. 

r  1 


Teciinology  Learning 

Technology  learning  is  part  of  every  student's  basic  education  in  Alberta. 
Recognizing  the  critical  role  played  by  technology  today  Alberta  Education  has 

developed  Information  and  Communication  Technology  learning  outcomes  that 
outline  the  skills  and  knowledge  students  need  to  acquire  as  they  move  from 
kindergarten  through  grade  12.  Students  will  achieve  these  outcomes  within  the  core 
subject  areas  of  Language  Arts,  Mathematics,  Science  and  Social  Studies.  Students 
develop  their  competence  with  technology  tools,  from  electronic  mail  and  Internet 
research  to  databases  and  spreadsheets.  They  also  use  these  tools  to  learn  subject 
matter  in  the  core  areas  and  to  generally  develop  their  communication,  inquiry, 
decision  making  and  problem  solving  skills.  Specialized  technology  education  is  also 
available  to  students  through  Career  and  Technology  Studies  (see  below). 

Technology  is  also  being  used  to  enhance  education  delivery.  The  use  of 
communication  technology  and  multimedia  programs  developed  for  our  curriculum 
supports  students  in  distance  learning  and  virtual  programs,  outreach  schools  and 
home  education. 

Career  and  Technology  Studies  (CTS) 

Career  and  Technology  Studies  (CTS)  prepares  students  for  the  job  market  or 
further  studies.  This  unique  program  allows  them  to  explore  a  wide  range  of  career 
options  in  technical  and  trade  areas,  learn  marketable  skills  and  gain  work 
experience.  Developed  with  the  direct  involvement  of  business  people  and 
professionals,  the  program  reflects  industry  standards  and  requirements. 

Courses  are  offered  in  many  career  areas,  and  vary  by  school  and  board, 
according  to  local  interest  and  demand.  In  some  career  areas,  students  may 
acquire  credentials  recognized  by  employers  or  post-secondary  institutions. 

Career  Areas  in  CTS 

Career  Transitions 
Communications  Technologies 
Community  Health 
Construction  Technologies 
Design  Studies 
Energy  and  Mines 
Enterprise  and  Innovation 
Fabrication  Studies 

Fashion  Studies 
Financial  Management 

Information  Processing 
Legal  Studies 

Management  and  Marketing 
Tourism  Studies 

Off-campus  Education 

Off-campus  Education  includes  Work  E)q)erience  courses,  the  Registered 
^prenticeship  Program  (RAP),  and  other  work  place  learning  such  as  mentoring  (one-on- 
one  contacts  between  students  and  business,  trade  or  professional  people)  and  field  trips. 

Work  Experience  Program:  Work  Experience  15, 25  and  35  enable  students  to 
explore  career  options  and  develop  skills  in  one  or  more  areas  of  work.  They  may 
earn  from  3  to  10  credits  for  each  work  experience  course  successfully  completed. 

Registered  Apprenticeship  Program:  Students  begin  apprenticing  for  a  trade 
while  still  in  high  school.  They  spend  part  of  their  school  time  in  the  work  place  as 
registered  apprentices  in  one  of  the  designated  trades.  They  receive  credits 
towards  a  high  school  diploma  while  earning  credit  towards  their  apprenticeship. 

Outreach  Programs 

Alberta  Education  funds  Outreach  Programs  to  help  students  who  have  dropped 
out  of  school  or  are  at  risk  of  leaving.  These  programs  usually  operate  in  non-traditional 
settings  such  as  shopping  malls  and  use  a  variety  of  approaches  to  give  students  the 
individual  help  they  need  to  complete  grade  12.  They  also  provide  additional  services 
including  personal  and  career  counselling,  time  management  and  study  skills. 

Although  not  every  school  or  school  board  has  Outreach  Programs,  all  are 
committed  to  assisting  students  to  successfully  complete  high  school. 


L  A 

High  School  Graduation  Requirements 

High  school  graduation  requirements  ensure  students  get  the  solid  education 
they  need  to  do  well  in  their  further  studies  and  careers.  To  receive  a  diploma, 
students  must  complete  a  full  range  of  compulsory,  core  subjects  as  well  as  optional 
courses  that  broaden  their  knowledge  and  skills. 

Diploma  requirements  are  set  by  the  Minister  of  Education  and  include  100 
credits  in  compulsory  and  optional  courses.  Schools  are  required  to  provide  25 
hours  of  instruction  for  each  credit.  Most  courses  are  worth  either  three  or  five 
credits,  and  the  average  course  load  is  35  credits  per  year. 

students  must  complete  and  pass  the  following  courses: 

English  30  or  33  or  Frangais  30*  and  33* 
Social  Studies  30  or  33 
Mathematics  20  or  23  or  24 

Science  20  or  24  or  Biology  20  or  Chemistry  20  or  Physics  20 
Physical  Education  10 
Career  and  Life  Management  20 
*  Students  in  francophme  programs  may  meet  their  language  arts  diplmm  requirements  with 
grade  12  Fran^ais,  but  they  also  must  complete  English  Language  Arts  to  the  grade  12  level. 

To  broaden  their  high  school  program,  students  are  required  to  complete  10  credits 
from  Career  and  Technology  Studies  (CTS),  Physical  Education  20-30,  Fine  Arts  or  Second 
Languages.  To  give  them  more  in-depth  study,  they  must  also  have  10  credits  in  any  30- 
level  courses  (besides  English  30  or  33  and  Social  Studies  30  or  33). 

Diploma  Exams 

Students  write  diploma  exams  that  evaluate  their  performance  relative 
to  provincial  standards.  Exams  are  required  in  the  foUovdng  courses: 
Biology  30 
Chemistry  30 
English  30  and  33 
Frangais  30 

Mathematics  30  and  33 
Physics  30 
Science  30 

Social  Studies  30  and  33 

Exams  are  written  at  all  high  schools  offering  diploma  courses 
in  January  and  June.  Some  also  are  written  in  April  and  November.  Exams 
are  written  in  supervised  v^iting  centres  outside  of  schools  in  August. 

The  final  mark  for  the  examination  subjects  is  determined  by  blending  the  school 
mark  (50  per  cent  of  the  final  mark)  and  the  exam  mark  (the  other  50  per  cent).  To 
pass  a  course,  a  student  must  obtain  a  final  blended  mark  of  50  per  cent  or  higher 

Students  who  do  not  successfully  pass  their  course  requirements  may  take  the 
course  and/or  the  exam  over  again.  Students  who  do  not  reach  the  grade  average 
required  to  enter  a  post-secondary  institution  may  also  repeat  the  course (s)  and 
exam(s).  Additional  fees  may  be  charged. 

Alberta  Education  issues  transcripts  of  marks  and  graduation  certificates. 

Provincial  Acliievement  Tests 

Alberta  has  taken  a  leadership  role  in  testing  student  achievement.  In  the  past 
few  years,  achievement  testing  programs  have  been  expanded  so  that  tests  in  grades 
3, 6  and  9  core  courses  are  administered  annually.  The  results  provide  parents, 
schools,  boards  and  Alberta  Education  with  valuable  information  about  how  well 
children  are  learning  and  whether  they  are  meeting  grade-level  standards. 

Parents  can  see  how  their  children  are  doing  in  key  program  areas  in  relation 
to  provincial  standards.  Schools  can  identify  program  areas  that  are  working  well 
and  areas  that  need  improvement.  Boards  can  evaluate  program  delivery,  and 
teacher  support  and  training. 

Alberta  Education  can  improve  the  curriculum,  textbooks  and  other 
learning  resources. 

Grade  3  students  write  tests  in  Math  and  English  Language  Arts.  Grades  6  and 
9  students  write  tests  in  English  Language  Arts,  Math,  Science  and  Social  Studies. 
Students  in  French  immersion  and  francophone  programs  also  write  French 
Language  Arts  tests.  Students  in  francophone  programs  write  Math,  Science  and 
\    Social  Studies  tests  in  French. 

A  small  number  of  students  may  be  excused  by  the  superintendent 
under  special  circumstances.  Special  provisions  are  made  for  students 
with  physical  disabilities  or  learning  disabilities  who  need  assistance  to 
write  the  tests. 

Provincial  achievement  tests  are  developed  by  Alberta  Education 
and  classroom  teachers  through  the  co-operation  of  local  school  boards. 

In  addition  to  school  and  jurisdiction  reports,  Alberta  Education 
prepares  individual  student  profiles,  showing  each  child's 
performance  in  relation  to  provincial  standards.  TWo  copies  (one  for 
parents)  of  the  individual  student  profile  are  sent  to  the  school  the 
child  will  be  attending  in  September.  Schools  are  encouraged  to 
share  the  test  results  with  parents  and  involve  them  in 
discussions  about  improving  their  child's  learning. 

Report  Cards 

Teachers  are  required  to  regularly  evaluate  student  progress,  and  report  how 
well  students  are  doing  in  relation  to  provincial  grade-level  standards  to  parents, 
students  and  school  administrators.  Individual  teachers  may  use  provincial 
achievement  test  results  in  determining  final  grades  for  their  students. 

Alberta  students  also  participate  in  national  and  international 
testing.  These  evaluations  show  how  students  in  this  province  measure 
up  to  national  standards,  and  to  students  across  Canada  and  abroad. 
These  results  also  provide  Alberta  Education  with  a  basis  for 
reviewing  provincial  standards. 

Local  school  boards  decide  what  format  to  use  for  report  cards  and  how 
else  to  communicate  student  progress.  Many  schools  schedule  parent-teacher 
interviews  as  well  as  issuing  written  reports  on  each  child's  progress.  Parents 
and  school  councils  may  advise  schools  and  boards  on  the  reporting 

methods  they  would  like  to  see  used. 

lUational  and  International  Achievement  Testing 


Alberta  is  the  first  province  in  Canada  to  adopt  a  teaching  quality  standard. 
In  1997,  the  Minister  of  Education  estabUshed  guidelines  for  the  professional 
knowledge,  skills  and  attributes  expected  of  all  teachers.  These  guidelines  apply  to 
the  preparation  of  teachers,  ongoing  professional  growth  and  teacher  evaluation 
throughout  the  province. 

School  authorities,  ECS  operators,  superintendents,  principals  and  teachers 
must  work  together  to  achieve  these  standards.  All  teachers  are  expected  to 
uphold  the  standards  consistently 


Teachers  in  the  public  school  system  and  in  accredited  private  schools  must 
hold  a  vaUd  Alberta  teaching  certificate.  Local  school  boards  hire  teachers  and 
negotiate  their  contracts. 

For  More  Information 

For  further  information  and  additional  resources,  contact  Alberta  Education, 
Communications  Branch. 

Telephone:  (403)  427-7219  until  December  31, 1998.  After  January  1, 1999, 
call  (780)  427-7219.  Call  toll  free  within  Alberta,  but  outside  of 
Edmonton,  by  dialing  310-0000  and  then  427-7219. 


Address:      Alberta  Education 
11160  Jasper  Avenue 
Edmonton,  Alberta  T5K  0L2 

For  more  information  about  specific  schools  and  programs,  contact  your  local 
school  board. 

Look  for  Us  on  the  World  Wide  Web 

You  can  connect  with  Alberta  Education's  home  page  at 
<  >. 

This  document  can  also  be  found  on  the  home  page,  under  Education  System. 
Your  Comments  Are  Valuable 

We  appreciate  your  feedback  on  this  publication:  whether  you  found  it  helpful  and 
what  other  areas  of  information  you  would  like  to  see  included. 

Please  fill  in  and  mail  the  evaluation  card  in  this  booklet,  call  us  at  the  phone 
number  given  above  or  e-mail  us  at  the  above  address.  Thank-you. 

Alberta.  Alberta  Education. 

Our  students,  our  future:  an  introduction  to  education  in  Alberta, 

kindergarten  to  grade  12. 

ISBN  0-7785-0297-x 

1.  Education  -  Alberta. 

2.  Education  -  Aims  and  objectives  -  Alberta.  I.  Title. 
LA418.A3.A333  1998  379.154 


3  3286  51686  6692