The government's changes to BC's graduation requirements are first steps in the implementation of the revised curriculum, but missing from today's announcement is the necessary funding to ensure teachers have the time and resources to get the job done, said BCTF President Jim Iker.
“BC teachers and the Federation are generally supportive of the revised curriculum as a whole and the changes to the graduation program,” said Iker. “For some time now, the BCTF has recommended the elimination of provincial exams, so this is a welcome move by government. For many students, provincial exams created significant barriers and took time away from actual learning. Over the years, provincial exams have tended to narrow the curriculum, force teachers to focus on content instead of skills and processes, and had a negative impact on students' motivation.”
While members of the BCTF have been very involved in the curriculum revision process, Iker explained that there are significant concerns about the short timelines and insufficient funding, both important factors which could undermine the success of its implementation.
“In order to successfully implement the revised curriculum, teachers need more time, in-service training, and funding for the necessary resources,” said Iker. “If the government wants this top-to-bottom shift of the curriculum to work, they need to come up with some new funding. Another significant concern is the implementation timeline. System-wide changes cannot be rushed through. We have never seen a province change the entire curriculum at the same time and treat it like a light switch that just flips on. There must be more realistic timelines, and a meaningful monetary commitment behind these changes.”
Iker also explained that the overall situation of underfunding and cutbacks in education will exacerbate the difficulties of implementing the revised curriculum.
“The crisis in education funding has lead to over 250 school closures, increased class sizes, worsening class composition, and cuts to specialist teachers like teacher counsellors, resource teachers, and special education teachers,” said Iker. “If BC wants to fully realize this revised curriculum, our students need smaller classes, more support for children with special needs, and more time with specialist teachers.”
For more information, read the BCTF's submission on the graduation requirements review.
You can also read this brochure on the impact of provincial exams.