Kaw Tay Whee School students in 2020. Lea Lamoureux/Kaw Tay Whee School
The NWT will gradually adopt British Columbia’s school curriculum between 2023 and 2027, beginning with trials for some grades in the next academic year.
Schools who sign up for the trial process will get to test a draft version of the curriculum for grades 4-6 and some Grade 9 students in 2023-24, according to a GNWT timeline published on Wednesday.
During that trial phase, schools will have “the choice to try one, some, or all subject areas of the draft curriculum,” the timeline states.
The BC curriculum is being phased in to replace one derived from Alberta’s curriculum. The NWT had been unnerved by Alberta’s recently updated curriculum, a document panned by experts, and decided BC’s version was a much better fit for the territory across four key criteria.
The territory is considered too small and lacking in resources to devise its own curriculum from scratch. Instead, NWT education officials adapt a southern provincial curriculum to fit the territory’s needs. The Yukon does the same thing.
“The first group to trial the draft curriculum will be grades 4-6,” the territorial government said in a statement.
“This group is best able to take on learning in the BC curriculum that is inquiry-based, which means it’s interactive and engaging, emphasizing the student’s role in learning based on questions or ideas students want to explore. Students in this age group, and their teachers, are already familiar with these approaches.”
The last group to trial the draft curriculum will be junior kindergarten and kindergarten classes, starting in 2025-26. The NWT said that area of the curriculum “requires further review to ensure a seamless transition for young children moving into our elementary schools.”
Final implementation of the curriculum will occur in 2027-28 under the current timeline, which includes moving the last students across to BC’s assessment tools like exams and standardized testing.
“Renewing the NWT’s JK-12 curriculum is a big process and it’s important that educators, students and families have time to adapt, plan and ask questions,” said RJ Simpson, the education minister, in a statement.
“Indigenous governments, education bodies and other partners will be involved in key focus areas. Teacher training and supports will be top of mind as we transition, ensuring that all teachers are properly supported to offer this new curriculum to their students.”
The territory says it still needs to determine the minimum Grade 12 graduation requirements for students using BC courses, adapt the BC curriculum “so it meets the contextual needs of NWT students and communities,” and develop a schedule and structure for teacher training.
According to the GNWT, “Indigenous worldviews, knowledge, and perspectives are reflected in all BC’s curricula and in mandatory learning for all students.”
That will be augmented by NWT-created approaches like Our Languages, Northern Studies and Hunter Education, which will remain, as will the Dene Kede and Inuuqatigiit curricula, which incorporate Dene and Inuit language and traditions respectively.