NWT sets out graduation requirements under BC curriculum

The Northwest Territories has released new graduation requirements that will slowly be introduced as the territory switches curriculum from Alberta to British Columbia.

The territory has already said it will gradually adopt BC’s school curriculum – augmented with NWT-specific content – between 2023 and 2027, beginning with trials for some grades this fall.

On Monday, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment provided more detail about how graduation requirements will change, beginning for Grade 10 students in 2024-25. (Anyone in Grade 11 or Grade 12 in 2024-25 will continue using the graduation requirements that were in effect when they started high school.)


Changes include moving from a five-credit to four-credit system. “This simply means that the credit values for courses will change and does not reflect reduced academic expectations of students,” the department stated in a short document explaining the new system.

Diploma exams, which make up 30 percent of final grades in subjects like math, chemistry, English language arts or social studies, won’t exist once the new graduation requirements come into effect.

“In the future, students will only take literacy and numeracy assessments, which are not tied to specific courses, but are a broad indicator of the student’s overall skills in those subjects,” the department stated.

“As such, students’ marks on these tests will not be factored into any of their final grades.

“All students will be required to complete the numeracy and literacy assessments. However, passing is not required to meet graduation requirements.”


Despite that shift, the department said marks in numeracy and literacy tests “will still hold significance” as teachers can use them to better support students and the marks will appear on transcripts that universities and employers can access.

The department also said the new system will feature “a greater focus on career education than the current requirements.”

Northern Studies 10 will still be a required course, but will be adapted and offered as a Grade 11 course.

Education minister RJ Simpson said BC’s graduation requirements – amended slightly to fit the NWT – were a part of moving toward the province’s “redesigned and student-centred JK-12 curriculum, and toward our mandate commitment to increase student education outcomes to the same level as the rest of Canada.”


From 2009 to 2018, about 50 percent of students in the NWT graduated high school.

Schools who sign up for the first trials of the new curriculum will get to test a draft version for grades 4-6 and some Grade 9 students in 2023-24.

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.