We’re reviewing our grad program to see how we can better prepare students for the future. Want to be part of this? Please read our background information then answer the questions below.

  1. What do you think are the core or essential things all students should know, understand and be able to do by the time they leave secondary school?
  2. Beyond the core, how could pathways for choice or exploration be provided?
  3. To be successful in and after school, students need to develop these five cross-curricular competencies:
    • Communication
    • Critical thinking
    • Creative thinking and innovation
    • Personal responsibility and well being
    • Social responsibility

    How do you think students could demonstrate these competencies?

  4. How could student learning be communicated to:
    • Students?
    • Parents/guardians?
    • Post secondary institutions/employers?
  5. How would you design an awards program to recognize student success in a personalized learning environment?

Please share your ideas!


Graduation Requirements Public Forums
Have more you’d like to share? Regional meetings are being held across B.C. this fall to discuss what our new grad program might look like. See our schedule for the times and locations of meetings near you.

55 Responses to “ What Should Our New Graduation Program Look Like? ”

  1. Kate says:

    What is clear from current research in the field is that to be prepared for ta continually rapidly changing world of the future, capabilities such as /creativity, conceptual and critical thinking, communication, cultural proficiency and collaboration along with technological proficiency.
    Any new new graduation program must reflect this change in focus if BC graduates are to continue to be successful at home and on the world stage

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Marta says:

      I agree Kate but this has been the case since the industrial revolution.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  2. Mark Girard says:

    Our New Graduation program should allow for teachers to teach to their passions. Money and support for elective programs in the schools is my favored approach. Smaller classes for senior courses must be allowed to run in the form of niche classes (and not at the expense of overcrowding junior classes or poaching from special education).

    Standardized curriculum will not be inspiring and much judicious leeway should be granted to our professionals to interpret their curriculum and assessment practices.

    I am not in favor of investments in on-line learning. I need a place for my child to be while my wife and I are at work. Bricks and mortar schools are a worthy product of the enlightenment and should stay nowadays.

    More technology is not a (silver bullet answer) and my daughter has many good teachers who would be considered “technophobic”. A variety of teachers with broad perspectives is the kind of teaching body that I want my daughter to experience. There should be some “techy” teachers and some “classical” teachers. Computers should not be replacing flesh and blood teachers in a socially constructive learning environment. Moreover, there should be opportunities to work collaboratively, as well as independently.

    I do not want my daughter to be taught by a video screen.

    Teachers should be “encouraged” to communicate with parents in an anecdotal way as well as formally through report cards. I would also like to see how well she is doing on a course wide comparison of her peers (normal curve distribution). I am sure that our Ministry can develop such a program to illustrate her position on the normal curve.

    Community experts may be experts in their field but are not necessarily good teachers. So, these individuals should be limited to guest speaking and workplace apprenticeship roles. Community collaboration with teachers should be encouraged but not mandated.

    Saving money in the form of government expenditures (the not-keeping-up-with-inflation-funding-to-schools) should come from other places (like a fair tax code that equalized corporations with citizens) instead of constantly cutting away the values of a quality public education system.

    And although GDP=(G+I+C+(X-M)) doesn’t grow as quickly when government spends than when investment from the private sector occurs, the private sector is mainly concerned with profit making and I don’t want to expose my daughter to this aspect of society at such a vulnerable age. She already gets this from much of commercial TV and internet activities.

    Thank you!

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 7 votes)
  3. Anonymous says:

    1) What do you think are the core or essential things all students should know, understand and be able to do by the time they leave secondary school?
    - Foundations Math stream could be improved to include Finances (instead of the ambiguous case of the sine law and linear programming)
    - Computer literacy should be required at some level (but this requires targeted funding)

    2) Beyond the core, how could pathways for choice or exploration be provided?
    - There is already tons of choice in high schools
    - Elementary and Middle school seem to have more problems funding band/music/art programs

    3) How do you think students could demonstrate these competencies?
    Communication (this is already covered well in curricular PLO’s)
    Critical thinking (this is a red herring: students are good critical thinkers if they a) know stuff b) have an attention span and c) can communicate)
    Creative thinking and innovation (difficult to force this)
    Personal responsibility and well being (“Work Habits” grade/assessment could be standardized and made more meaningful – provide a rubric)
    Social responsibility (community or global caring project)

    4) How could student learning be communicated to:
    Students?
    Parents/guardians?
    REPLACE BCESIS with a functional program that has an online component so that students and parents can check marks anytime, and teachers can easily email individual parents or a whole class. REPLACE BCESIS – it is my biggest frustration every day as a teacher – worse than a child who doesn’t pay attention, BCESIS never learns.
    In high school, teachers should be given a way to schedule individual appointments with their students during the day twice per term to discuss progress.

    5) How would you design an awards program to recognize student success in a personalized learning environment?
    Bring back grade 12 exams and reward success. Yes, and also have students be nominated somehow for awards in other fields like the trades.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  4. Dan Striker says:

    That concepts look great, and it would be exciting to be teaching in this format. Once again your document appears rushed. There is nothing in it to say to a teacher what this would like in my class. It appears rushed just like your pursuits of graduation portfolio and Planning 10. If the big idea is used how can that be examined at a provincial level? Provincial exams would be prescribed and teachers still would have to still worrying about meeting those prescribed learning outcomes. The provincial exams would have to be scrapped for this to be successful.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  5. Mary Wong says:

    Math skills to algebraic equations minimum
    English skills; grammar, spelling, resume and letter writing understanding directions written and oral
    public speaking
    safety ; fire safety ,basic electrical safety,
    health and food basics such as Canada food guide proper hygiene,
    people skills; how to communicate and get along, recognizing different personalities and identifying types, strengths and weaknesses for all types and applying how to work together and separately
    good study habits
    record keeping; medical, financial, educational
    information gathering skills

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +3 (from 5 votes)
  6. Brigitta says:

    I was at the community forum, but felt one of my suggestions was not heard, and it is this point I want to make… I think that knowing how to be presentable and come across well is very important. It stems from having good manners at all times, being respectful and courteous, and being aware of those you are interacting with.
    We talked about the importance of ethics and presentation skills and emotional intelligence, but when it came to the word “manners”, my table felt that should come from home. I agree, but if it doesn’t, we are letting those students down, and letting society down when they move into jobs and start their own families. Sometimes I think half the high school students need to go to finishing school for a year and learn how to be polite! Manners are not an old generation thing, and people who have them get doors opened much quicker and then of course they have to have the skills to succeed.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 6 votes)
  7. Doug says:

    The current direction in writing skills needs adjustment. Apparently in the age of email and spell check the ministry has moved away from promoting the ability to write using proper grammer, in favour of other aspects of communication. It is very frustrating, however, that recent university graduates lack appropriate writing skills. For some careers the ability to write well may not be important, but for any professional work something above a basic level of writing ability is required, and developing this skill has to start in the high schools years.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
    • Eli W. says:

      This is an interesting point, Doug. According to the current PLOs for English, explicit grammar instruction should be complete by the second grade. The source in the PLOs to support this idea is the Carnegie Corporation. I believe it’s on page 29 of this document – http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/irp/pdfs/english_language_arts/2007ela_812_8.pdf

      Interestingly enough, the PLOs for English from the eighth grade to the twelfth grade change very little. If one wants to see what a curriculum with fewer PLOs looks like, this a pretty good model.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  8. helena says:

    As a mother of 6, and someone who works with students wishing to enter into Post Secondary, I would say that the current graduation system fails to prepare students for life after school. There are many times that my child comes home advising me of the many courses she needs for graduation, and I wonder who decided how these requirements will benefit her in any way. Last year, my daughter actually had to give up taking a physics 11 class in favour of taking a sewing class to ensure she met the fine arts requirement of graduation. I think there needs to be an admission that graduation is not about preparing students for life after school, so much as it is a statistical tool that the government is seeking to improve upon. They can water down the requirements (allowing students to take courses like communications, minimum essentials math classes) and the student “graduates” and the government gets to now say they have improved graduation rates. What they seem to have really done is lowered the standards and done nothing really to improve the performance or capacity of our children. While I’m the last person to believe that the school is solely responsible for preparing our children, I think they play a large role and could certainly do more to help ensure students are prepared. Later in life, all students need to have good reading, writing and literacy, at least functional math skills, personal / budget planning skills, planning skills (beyond simple resume writing), public speaking / public interaction skills, effective decision making skills, healthy living (beyond physical education, and including developing personal plans, dietary plans etc…). I think many of these areas could be taught in the school system and would probably be more beneficial than many of the courses currently required in the system. Instead what happens when a child struggles with reading, is they are still required to take all the classes that are meaningless and allowed to just fall progressively further behind. years ago, I made a personal decision, fought with my childs school to remove her from courses I thought were of no practical use so we could focus on improving her academics. It’s really sad that even when a parent tries to engage with a school to help develop a plan for success for their child, they are met with this type of attitude. When my daughter came to me and suggested she didn’t really want to graduate because there were so many “stupid” requirements, I couldn’t disagree with her. She had to take a “planning” course and her teacher said straight out it was a dumb class and had so little content and that it was useless to students that he didn’t mind if she skipped most of the time so she could focus on useful courses. I think our education system has a long way to go before it realizes that setting up successful children is more than improving statistics, it is about being able to look proudly at our community and know that we did everything we could to help ensure our children became fully function, participating adults. This might mean they work in a service job and don’t go to further education, this might mean they become a top performing doctor. Ultimately, our educaiton system has an opportunity to shape children’s lives, and help them become the best people they can be, and at this point, at best, they are serving only those who fit within the very small set of criteria they offer. I was fortunate enough to be one of those kids who made it through our system, but through my years of work with kids, and having many children of my own, I have seen the extreme gaps that exist for those who don’t fit the cookie cutter method of education offered currently. I hope great consideratin will be given to what our kids need in order to succeed not in their quarterly report cards, but in their lives after school ends.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 6 votes)
    • Louise says:

      Hi Helena,

      I think that the requirement of “at least one applied skill or fine art” is extremely important in the graduation program. Under normal circumstances, a student should not need to give up anything to achieve this because they take 8 courses each year, and it fits into a standard grade 10 program:
      - English 10
      - Math 10
      - Socials 10
      - Science 10
      - PE 10
      - Planning 10
      - Second Language 10 or elective
      - Fine art or applied skill

      The Planning 10 curriculum is not useless, and if taught by someone passionate about the topic is all about preparing kids for the future. They learn what courses they need to graduate, research the careers that they are interested in, find out about the requirements for the career of their choice, learn about healthy lifestyle choices, resume building and interview skills. If anything, when taught well, this is the most important course for young people.

      If your daughter still wants to take Physics, she can do so through an online school. You can find one in your area through the LearnNowBC website.

      The changes in curriculum have actually made it more difficult to graduate because the new Math streams are much harder than the old Essentials of Math, so I don’t see the graduation rates increasing as a result of lowering standards. Most of the kids that I meet who want to take all of the sciences take Science 10 in their grade 9 year so that they can spread the sciences out over three years and still have a well rounded educational experience.

      To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t want to see people go into medicine who didn’t have a well rounded education. They need to be able to sew your body, so if you daughter wants to be a doctor, then that sewing course might just be something that helps her. Visual and physical literacy is very important to the career of a doctor, even if it isn’t valued in the process of entry to the field.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
    • Heather says:

      I feel the same way as Helena does. It frustrates me that my son has had to spend four (4) days a week, since Grade 1, learning to speak French, when his writing skills are poor, and his math skills need improvement. When I asked my son’s teacher if my son could spend the time currently dedicated to french, to work on improving his math skills, I was told “no”.

      So, my question to the moderation team is:

      Doesn’t a newly enacted education bill give parents the right to control, at least to some degree, the courses that their children are required to take during the day? Specifically, do my children (Grades 3 and 5) have to take french-language instruction classes at their non-french-immersion, public, elementary school (SD #63); and, if so, why?

      Thanks.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
      • Moderator Michele Moderator Michele says:

        The required areas of study are set out in the Required Areas of Study in an Educational Program Order.
        • According to this order, if a student is not enrolled in a francophone educational program, or is not a French immersion student, a second language program is not required until Grade 5.
        • Boards of education are responsible for the establishment, operation, administration and management of educational programs in their district. As long as a board is offering an educational program that meets the requirements under provincial legislation and regulations, boards have the authority to offer additional educational programs to their students.
        • If your child’s district has decided to offer French language instruction to all students starting in Kindergarten, you can bring your concerns about this policy to the members of your board of education.
        • Decisions about timetables and time allotments per subject are decided by staff in your district and your child’s school.
        • Principals and teachers are responsible for ensuring that their students are meeting the learning outcomes in the provincial curriculum. If you have concerns about your child’s math and reading skills, speak to your child’s teacher and principal.

        VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
        • Heather says:

          Thanks Michele. I will follow-up with the school principal and/or school board.

          Heather

          VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  9. Donna says:

    I am curious as to why the criteria for the provincial exam scholarships have been changed yet again (September 2012). While I agree that changes were necessary due to the dismantling of the grade 12 exams in 2011, the students graduating this year (2013) have had 2 different sets of criteria sprung on them in their final years. Transferring the emphasis from grade 12 to mainly grade 10 exams without forewarning seems highly unfair and is exceptionally frustrating to many students. I realize that the Educ. Ministry wishes to attract more students to trades training, thus the redirection of academic scholarship funds to Dogwood District scholarships, but for those students halfway through their grade 11 & 12 years it is nearly impossible to switch courses to take advantage of the additional Dogwood scholarships. Thus, they may be unable to take advantage of either scholarship program.

    As it relates to the Graduation Program … I hope that any new changes to the Graduation Program will be phased in more gradually & predictably, much like the changes to the high school math pathways have been, as opposed to this rapid, inflexible change in the way the ministry will be disbursing graduation scholarships.

    Whatever is decided on for the New Graduation Program I hope that it will show clear direction for both graduation & scholarship criteria …. not meandering pathways that change on the students midstream.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Hi Donna. The Provincial Exam Scholarship criteria for 2011/12 was established in response to a change in policy (the cancellation of provincial optional exams). However, as personalized learning conversations have continued to take place across the province over the past year, the ministry has had the opportunity to hear feedback on the current awards program and conversations on what a provincial awards program could look like in a personalized learning environment. This past year, education partners have suggested that there was a disproportionate emphasis on rewarding excellence on provincial exams and not enough on other forms of excellence. To provide greater balance and a more inclusive recognition of student achievement, the Ministry capped the number of Provincial Examinations Scholarship awards at $5,000 for the 2012/13 school year, allowing funds to be diverted to enable an increase in the number of Dogwood District/Authority Awards from $3,000 to $5,500. This is a first phase in implementing an Awards program that acknowledges student learning in a personalized educational context.

      Does this answer your question?

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
      • Donna says:

        Perhaps I should clarify. I understand the desire to revamp the Provincial Scholarship program to reflect both the dismantling of the Grade 12 exams & policy changes around increasing personalized learning & apprenticeship/trade trading.

        What I’m not clear on is why the drastic implementation timeline? With two major changes to the awards programs in under a year, the last one (Aug. 31/12) just made available to graduating students this week, there has been little to no time for the current Grade 11 & 12 students most affected by these changes to adapt.

        In comparison, the changes to the math curriculum were announced in 2008 & just fully implemented this September … 4 years.

        As it relates to this forum’s final question, (5.How would you design an awards program to recognize student success in a personalized learning environment?) I would hope that the design of any future awards program will recognize that student choices around courses are often set before entering the Grade 11 & 12 years. As such, any major changes in how these awards are to be disbursed need to follow changes in ministry priorities not precede them, i.e. acknowledge the lag time & make Grade 9 & 10 students aware of the upcoming changes. Inflexible, midstream changes only frustrate & alienate students.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
        • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

          Thanks for following up, Donna. I don’t know the answer to your question but I’ve forwarded it to our Awards and Scholarships folks for their consideration. One of us on the moderation team will post a response when we hear back from them.

          VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
        • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

          Hi again, Donna. What I was told was that the changes that were implemented were based on the feedback and suggestions from our education partners. I also understand you’ve been in touch with the ministry directly and that you will be getting a response with more details soon.

          VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  10. Grog says:

    Our education system is based on a false premise and has failed. It’s about over for BC and Canada as a whole. We might as well shut off the lights and go home! Any who disagree? Just take an HONEST look at the shape of things in the world, beginning with our neighbors to the south, then go to Italy, Spain, Greece, Argentina… Get my drift?

    Our society has failed. Our young people have no work ethic, little or no respect for authority, for other’s property, their elders. They have no self-discipline. They can, for the most part, no longer even follow simple printed directions.

    Where have we failed our children? In the home first of all, with broken marriages, absentee fathers, no discipline, no right upbringing, no responsibilitites…

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 14 votes)
    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      If school has a responsibility and a role to play in preparing our youth for making our world better, what suggestions do you have?

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)
      • Grog says:

        One area today’s schools are sadly lacking is firm, responsible yet benevolent government and the enforcement of law. We see that complete lack of the aformentioned in the issue of bullying. It seems no one is willing or even able to stand up and do what is right. When I was young there were consequences, in the home first and in the school. Those consequences are sadly lacking today. In my 25+ years working with children in and out of the public school system I have noted a steady decline in all these things. To put government, law and consequences back into the education system would be impossible now.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +1 (from 5 votes)
    • Louise says:

      Hi Grog,

      I work with teens in schools, and I don’t find that they all lack manners and work ethic. In fact, I find that most of them do have both of those things. What has changed is a willingness to allow themselves to be treated poorly, and to blindly accept authority from others. I find that today’s young people, for the most part, are able to think critically about things.

      There certainly are unruly teenagers around, but that has always been the case. Unfortunately, they are the ones that people see and hear. The ones who are completing school, working part time and volunteering to coach younger kids are too busy to be seen and heard.

      They are the hidden face of the teen years.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  11. Glen says:

    Why is it the Ministry of Education is funding students to re-take courses online for upgrading purposes. The cost of students re-taking courses for upgrading purposes should be covered by the students themselves.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)
    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Under the School Act, any course leading to graduation must be free. This includes online and bricks and mortar courses. And, actually, it’s less expensive to provide upgrading via distance learning. Graduated adults may also upgrade online in a classroom or online for free, but course selection is limited.

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • Donna says:

        Mike … Is there a limit on the number of times a student may re-take courses? I understand that provincial exams may only be re-written once & after that the student must re-take the course, but is there a limit on the actual course re-takes? I am hearing stories of students re-taking courses upwards of 2 & 3 times.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
        • Moderator Rebekah says:

          Hi Donna,

          There is no limit on the number of times a student may attempt a course – provided the course attempts are taken in succession, not concurrently. In fact, our provincial exams are set up to allow the student’s best course attempt & best provincial exam attempt (within a 12 month period) to automatically blend together on their Transcript of Grades. Although multiple attempts of a course are permitted, these additional attempts do not result in additional credits towards graduation. Does this help?

          VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
          Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
  12. Catherine says:

    my main concern is if there is articulation between graduation requirements changes at the grade 12 level and the UNIVERSITY level. in other words, what type of impact will these new grad requirements have on students going into first year university?

    a good example is: re-assessment at the high school level until the students find success but this is not true at the post secondary level. if they fail a mid-term or a test, then too bad. there are no re-writes and no second or third chances. students in high school have relied on rewrites and reassessments so much that it will be a shocker to them once they go to university.

    my question is will the new grad requirements really help prepare students for university with university “expectations and standards?”

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
    • Krista says:

      Although I agree with Catherine, that students going to University will be unprepared, the reality is University isn’t for everyone. I forget the percentage, but it’s high – that most students that graduate don’t go on to post-secondary. Graduation requirements should be flexible enough to encourage and challenge the students who are moving on to higher learning, while still allowing students who are less capable of achieving that academic standard can still be successful in school.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: -2 (from 4 votes)
      • Donna says:

        Perhaps then the key is to make those academic courses which will be required for university admission inadmissible for re-writes (with obvious exceptions for those students with medical issues, etc.) and only allow re-writes & re-assessments for courses which do not lead to college/university (i.e. Apprentice & Workplace Math). This would allow those students who are less academically inclined to experience success while gaining skills & knowledge & hopefully, thwart those students who try to “game” the system as serial re-takers in the hopes of boosting their university admission scores.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
      • DJ says:

        There are more recent stats on that “In 2003, 44% of Canada’s working-age population (those aged 25 to 64) had a college or university degree.” from http://www.ccsd.ca/factsheets/education/

        I think as a system in OECD countries we are amoungst the highest percentage for population that attends post secondary education.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
    • Louise says:

      Only about half of new graduates go into post secondary education immediately after graduation (this includes all forms of public post secondary education).

      Graduation is not only about preparing students for university, but rather for life. While we do need to maintain a level of quality for the highly academic students that will create success in the university context, we also need to be mindful of people who are following other paths.

      As far as the assessment piece, I had a university professor who allowed us to take the higher of any assessment in Organic Chemistry. If we scored a better grade on the final exam than any of the unit tests, then that would become our grade. Furthermore, there were opportunities to rewrite exams. Students just needed to know how to ask, and which people to talk to.

      Fundamentally, a test is an opportunity for students to learn what they do and do not know. For students who choose to continue to learn after the assessment, having the option of taking another exam can be a good thing.

      Driver’s licensing tests can be redone, board exams can be redone, the Medical College Admissions Test can be redone,… I don’t know of many real-world tests that cannot be taken more than once.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
  13. Kathy Murphy says:

    1) read, write, problem solve, work cooperatively, contribute to community, communicate effectively, socially responsible
    2)special projects, advanced placement,volunteer work, Ace it -technological training while in school and building connections to community
    3)cross curricular projects topics that matter-ecology,cultural issues. self and peer assessment
    4) developmental continua so parents know where students are; performance standards, no percentage report on competencies
    5) district selection based on competencies as well as academics

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  14. Andrew McFayden says:

    1. Answer to question #1: Given the fact that today’s world is much more interconnected with technology, and that the majority of students already know the workings of computers and technological tools by the time they even get to school, the need for teachers to teach the ‘how to’ use computers and technology is rapidly getting passé.

    An absolute necessity for all students is cultural sensitivity. I see many students being insensitive to other languages, and believing that English is all that they need. English may be one of the largest languages in the world, but that doesn’t mean that showing respect for another person’s language isn’t critical.

    I believe that the majority of BC students must be able to speak another language by the time they leave secondary school, and not just through the traditional ‘core’ courses, but through a more aggressive form of immersion. Emphasis should be put on French because of the Canadian reality and to indirectly encourage national unity.

    Numeracy and literacy are also critical.

    The five core things that BC students must be able to do:

    1. Speak and function in a second language
    2. Be literate in English
    3. Be able to handle daily functions in math (budgeting, basic business math)
    4. Be critical thinkers
    5. Show cultural, social, and community sensitivity (respect for differences, gender issues, sexual identity issues etc…)

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 5 votes)
    • Heather says:

      Hmm … to my way of thinking, having people all over the world speaking different languages is very inefficient (don’t all computers speak one language – binary code); and, it reduces our ability to achieve international unity. The need to speak multiple languages also marginalizes many people (e.g., the elderly, people who are learning disabled, etc.).

      Also, since most Canadians just happen to be blessed with having their 1st/native language (i.e., english) be the same as the recognized international language (also english), would it not be more strategic on our part to use the extra time/time saved (e.g., the time that kids in China, Germany. etc. NEED to spend learning english) to teach our Canadian kids superior math and science skills so that we can better compete on the world stage, rather than continue our current descent.

      Just some food for thought ….

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)
  15. Gary Parkstrom says:

    1. Core Skills – Ability to critically think. Can a student assess information for bias and credibility, and synthesize that information into a broader contextual understanding of issues of importance to society and culture.

    2. Choice/Exploration – This is really up to students to decide (on the path) and teachers and school to facilitate. Space and time in each day needs to be provided – not crammed in on top of everything else.

    3. This is up to teachers and students, and the variety of ways is endless. More important than demonstration is using these skills in authentic situations that contribute to culture or society in positive, not necessarily economically driven, situations.

    5. That should be up to each community and school.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  16. Jim A says:

    1. Students should learn how to learn and how they learn best. They need to learn to work collaboratively and individually and the need to learn how to evaluate information and solve problems in creative and innovative ways.
    2. We have to remove structures like timetables that impede creative thinking. Once gone we have large blocks of time that can be assigned in new ways. Learning should be built around projects and problem solving. Students should be tech savvy and adept. We have to forget the notion that school means a cluster of thirty students learning the same thing at the same time.
    3. I know portfolio is a dirty word in some circles. But we have the technology that should allow us to ensure that student work can be maintained and assessed in a portfolio manner. It is not an add on as it once was – simply as a repository for significant learning that can be used as an assessment of student progress. Build in exit interviews/discussions and we should be able to assess the students knowledge and skills quite well.
    4. John Hattie’s research shows the huge importance of self assessment and self analysis of learning. These points need to be stressed in any new assessment. We need to focus on competencies appropriate to the direction in which the student is progressing. Ongoing discussion with parents and students together about the learning that is taking place as well as multiple sources of evidence – work product, photos, video etc.
    5 Lets get rid of awards programs totally – either split the $ between students going to any post secondary or use it to reduce tuition across the board.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +2 (from 8 votes)
  17. Seth Phillips says:

    The grad program should first and foremost give students a chance to get an accurate vision of the many job opportunities they may be suited to, or prefer, and enjoy – by actually seeing the job being done, and the people doing them, and knowing the number of people that will need to do them, and the skills that can enable them to be proficient and successful doing these jobs. Motivation is key to learning, and learning something that will not benefit them in a vocation they aspire to, or having a majority to kids who do not aspire to anything at all is a sad and ineffective way to educate. It’s the kids with a dream, with aspirations that they can believe in, that they feel sure will satisfy their needs in adult life that are motivated to succeed in school. Most children don’t have any knowledge of the options out there, and will and up unskilled and unmotivated, while people from out of the country are imported to take jobs they would have happily and ably done and been skilled in doing, if only they had been shown the possibilities and encouraged to learn, knowing that they are not substandard to the foreigner, but just need to be shown the difference between good and bad jobs.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
    • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

      Hands on experience in potential jobs is a great idea, and is definitely happening in a lot of schools and communities across B.C. Please see the links in the Graduation Requirements and Transitions to Post Secondary or Work section here for some great examples.

      http://www.bcedplan.ca/happening_local.php

      VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)
  18. Hugh MacKinnon says:

    I am a recently retired (Aug. 31/2012) Secondary school administrator (28 years) who was also a school counsellor and a teacher working for 34 years in the public school system in B.C. It was an honour and privilege to have had the opportunity to have had this vocation. I taught in many different settings including a large urban secondary school with 3600 students back then(Newestminster Secondary)smaller rural secondary schools in Nelson, Golden and Terrace as well as secondary schools in the Comox Valley finishing my career as the sole administrator for Secondary Alternate Education students in the district. I also am a parent of four sons who completed high school graduation at public schools in B.C. . Three are now teachers ( two teaching internationally, one in China (Canadian off-shore school) and one in Manila, Philippines at an International school. My other son is a driller with an oil company in Alberta and works in Canada and internationally.
    I am also an elected municipal Town Councillor in Comox. Apologies for the background added to hopefully illustrate that I have a broad perspective on this topic and that my views might be useful to those formally looking at all of the review.
    I attended the Campbell River session and brought to it also the opinions of some of my colleagues on Town Council in Comox. I thought this was important to have the views of some outside of the public school fraternity to add connection and merit to the review.
    Again, apologies for the long-winded prefacing remarks!!!!!!
    Here are my comments:

    #1. Core /Essential things students should know upon leaving secondary school
    a. Lifeskills- (understanding and intro. to money management; how to budget, goal-setting, kitchen survival etc.)
    b. Academics- 3′rs – Reading , writing , arithmatic + oral communication with practise + intro. to statistical analysis for the layperson!
    c. Computer technology- Basic and advanced levels offered – 1st Level for users – 2nd level for Programmers.
    d. Problem Solving opportunities- group and individual opportunities and practise through projects.
    e. Active Citizenship- Intent is an introduction to how your community works (Municipal). Part of this should be a required amount of volunteer community service. ( I taught in an urban and rural setting a course called Community Recreation 12 which part of the requirements for completion were a minimum of 30 community volunteer hours. Students chose or were placed with community volunteer organizations like 4-h clubs, Rotary, Kinsmen, Guides and Scouts,community sport coaching or managing, municipal government etc. I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A COUPLE OF COMMENTS REGARDING THIS COURSE REQUIREMENT BECAUSE OF THE MANY POSITIVE BENEFITS I SAW FOR COMMUNITIES. (1.)I recall how awestruck the students were that their community was run in this context by volunteers!!! Most had not considered the fact that most of the organizations were volunteer run.
    … 2. THE CONNECTIONS MADE BETWEEN ADULTS IN THE COMMUNITY AND THESE YOUTH WOULD NEVER HAD HAPPENED HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THE REQUIRED COMMITTMENT OF 30 HOURS. THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN SERVICE CLUB ADULT VOLUNTEERS, CUB AND GIRL GUIDE LEADERS, COACHES, MUNICIPAL LEADERS FOSTERED A MENTORING OF THESE YOUTH AND ALLOWED ADULTS TO HEAR A YOUTH PERPECTIVE ON THINGS. THESE CONNECTIONS BY THEMSELVES MADE THE REQUIREMENT BENEFICIAL FOR COMMUNITIES. AS WELL, THE SERVICE CLUBS, SPORTING ORGANIZATIONS, BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS GOT A CHANCE TO RECRUIT YOUNG PEOPLE TO PLANT THE SEEDS FOR REPLACEMENT AND CONTINUED COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERISM AMONGST HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS. IN SUMMARY, THE REQUIRED HOURS FOR STUDENTS TO DO COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERISM I BELIEVE HELPED CREATE A GREATER SENSE OF COMMUNITY FOR ALL. TO TALK ABOUT CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS TO A CLASS OR TO DISCUSS LOCAL GOVERNMENT TO A HIGH SCHOOL CLASS DOES NOT CONNECT STUDENTS AND IS LARGELY IRRELEVANT. TO BE REQUIRED TO BECOME INVOLVED CREATES A SHARED EXPERIENCE THAT BECOMES VERY RELEVANT AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT IS VERY POSITIVE AND LEAVES THE STUDENT WITH AN IMMENSE SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT. HENCE, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND THE MINISTRY CONSIDER SOME FORM OF AN ‘ACTIVE CITIZENSHIP’ COURSE AND / OR VOLUNTEER REQUIREMENT TO INTRODUCE, PROMOTE AND FOSTER CITIZENSHIP AMONGST OUR YOUTH. MY EXPERIENCE WITH AND FEEDBACK FROM STUDENTS REGARDING SUCH A COURSE/REQUIREMENT WAS OFF THE CHARTS. MANY STUDENTS MET ADULTS WHO BECAME MENTORS AND INDIRECTLY LED THEM (STUDENTS) TO CAREER PATHS NOT RELATED TO THE VOLUNTEERISM THEY WERE INVOLVED IN BUT BECAUSE OF THE PERSONAL CONNECTION THEY DEVELOPED – AN INDIRECT IMMENSE POSITIVE! PLEASE CONTACT ME FURTHER SHOULD ANYONE BE INTERESTED IN THIS CONCEPT THAT I STRONGLY BELIEVE HAS HUGE POTENTIAL AND MERIT.

    Last core or essential thing students should know and understand is Mental and Physical Health. History and recent sad events have highlighted the need for dialogue with teens regarding mental health, a subject long held as taboo in public schools. Physical Health- lifetime fitness introduction and required ongoing self-made plan need to be incorporated into a requirement that also includes Mental Health.

    Questions 2-5 – we answered in our Forum as a group in Campbell River but I thought I would highlight Question 1 and in particular my thoughts on Active Citizenship. Please contact me should you with to discuss this topic further.
    Regards,
    Hugh MacKinnon

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
    • Mary Wong says:

      I agree with life skills but included in that are safety skills such as the basics about electricity and the dangers of randomly pounding a nail in the wall or dropping an electrical device in water or pouring water on a grease fire. Safety practices should be covered in there under life skills. I would also like to perhaps add the necessity to at least have some daily activity that incorporates a minimal update on important current events like watching the news for 1/2 hour each day to at least get warnings of recalls or weather or traffic updates or bad water issues.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
      • DJ says:

        At what point in the curricculum do you suggest the skill and knowledge base of not pounding a nail into the wall or dropping an electrical device into water. I take that type of common sense teaching to be my role as a parent. I do have to admit that my common sense expectations are not all parents and therefore might need some development in school but I believe a lot of it should and is included in the younger grades. My children knew how to hold and handle scissors prior to school age. But they were also taught by their kindergarten teacher as well. I think your concern over life skills is primarily a parent role however.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  19. Gordon says:

    1. This could be an expansive topic and I am sure hundreds of books and lists have been written on this very subject. I think this question needs to answer the question of what is an educated person. Not to make this complicated and nuanced topic too trite, I would think the core comes down to what was once described to me as a “compassionate go-getter”. Someone who positively contributes in their area of influence and interest. Who makes a positive difference for others. This cannot all be done within the public school system but requires a connection with the real world to engage young minds in seeing their potential and striving to fulfill it.
    > We need a skills set not a content focus in elementary education. The primary academic focus in early elementary grades being on grammar and logic. This needs to be complemented by the importance of personal health, fitness and well-being in the sense of self-regulated social and personal responsibility and compassion. The creative arts also needs to be part of the picture to enhance human sensitivity and expression.
    >In the latter elementary and early secondary grades the academic focus continues to refine grammar and logic but begins to introduce and focus on the power of rhetoric as a communication tool.
    >In later high school the study of condensed content areas comes into play to begin the preparation for the life of work or further study.

    2. Beyond the core as the ends, the means to those ends is having this skills focus personalized to attend to and integrate topics, likely more project based, that captures the imagination of a young mind. Through their learning actions they may actually change some part of their world including themselves. The more inquiry based such projects are in solving questions or problems that young people see about them the better. We cannot change people, only challenge them and through such experiences they change themselves.

    3 & 4 Students should develop the competencies outlined in question 3 through a presentation of some sort towards the end of each year. In the early grades to their class and parents. In the later grades it should be opened up to the interested public. The presentation formats could be very diverse and creative…not just the sage on the stage PowerPoint type. In could be a presentation of works or services they have rendered or accomplished over the year…from the writing of a symphonic suite or musical to the rebuilding of a car or the invention of some marvel of scientific technology or their documented journey of helping those in need and what they learned.
    We crowd the curriculum too early with content. Let’s focus on academic and social skills in the early years. Let’s give the system a chance to do a few things well. Let students develop content knowledge in passions or areas of interest within this format to demonstrate skill development over time. Later in high school we can use a content focus to develop in-depth knowledge in areas of student interest or democratic society need.
    We need more engagement and less prescribed curriculum – we just keep adding on until it is too unwieldy to teach or learn in an adequate way within the time we have. Learning is too much the itinerary focus and not enough of the awe and wonder of the experiences during the journey. The joy of learning is not a checklist. It is the involvement. Young children come into the system learning out of engagement and too many leave school disengaged…how is this so? This leads to the last question.

    5. Your thoughts and emotions in and about learning are more important than the actual outcome of your learning at any point in time. Many people will tell you the best way to learn is from your mistakes. If we get learners to fixate on how well they are doing constantly as opposed to the flow of thinking about what they are learning and doing, students shift from figuring things out to focus on just high achievers based upon grading. They think less about doing and more about how successful they are at any point in time. In other words the reward and not the learning process becomes the ends. Natural learning tends to focus as much or more on the means of learning as just the ends of it. If we focus on stretching thinking and discovery in learning we cannot be always getting a high grade. Students soon learn that it is the grade that is the ultimate ends of learning in schooling so they maximize the probability of success and minimize the probability of failure by challenging themselves less to meet the goal of a letter grade rather than pursuing the intrinsic interest by engaging in the learning. Success is all that counts so we emphasize achievement to the exclusion of learning by branding kids with grade labels. Most adults would not wish to be so treated and I think our grading as a reward system is a big part of why many students disengage overtime. If the point is to succeed by stretching your thinking or discovery of new ideas, you tend to challenge yourself. If it is the label of a letter grade that is the reward you tend to do what is easiest to ensure high standing. Letter grades are more sorters and selectors – winners and losers – I am better than you – more for proud parents – than a learning tool. This is not the world of expertise. Experts live on the edge of growing their skills through 10 000 hours of practice…which involves constant improvement and a fixation on the learning for its sake not the letter grade.

    If society must have such discrimination in learning to select or extol its best and brightest, however defined,(which may be a skill set valued today but not a decade from now), then I would think an annual district and provincial rewards banquet similar to the Academy Awards where student graduation projects are nominated in certain areas and a jury picks an ultimate winner from among a set of nominees – likely regional nominees from the province. This then acknowledges and recognizes a body of thinking and learning over the period of their time in school. The joy is still in the learning and the doing. I am sure most actors in a role are not thinking of the Academy Award as they engage in their pursuit and passion for acting. It comes later by recognition by many others of a body of work or a stellar performance (due to the engagement in the project not fixating on the reward). It becomes a nice to have but not the ultimate end of your work and study.
    This question reminds me of a cartoon that I could not paste here for whatever reason. It is entitled “Our Education System” A gentleman is seated behind a long table with a row of animals facing him with a large tree in the background: a bird, a monkey, a penquin, an elephant, a goldfish in a bowl, a seal and a dog. The fellow says to them, “For a fair selection everybody has to take the same exam: please climb that tree”. That is a reasonable critique of what we try to do in education about rewarding certain students and raising the bar despite not being successful with all students: what bar or should I say what tree?

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: 0 (from 6 votes)
  20. Suzette says:

    Curriculum needs to be driven by students rather than adults. If learning is to be truely “personalized” then learning, especially at secondary, needs to be student driven and valued for student input and motivation rather than an arbitary grading system.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
    • Jonathan says:

      It is a personal source of frustration to see my daughter crash into the shoals of the “make work” Grade 10 curriculum. Up until then, as a student at Self Design she was relatively free to pursue her own interests, and had achieved a depth of knowledge in those areas that would normally only be seen in universities.

      Now, however, I see her eyes glaze over doing required courses that don’t matter in the least, except for being required. She now has little time to indulge her own interests, and her enthusiasm for learning has transformed into finding ways to avoid her schoolwork. Frankly, the Ministry of Education has been a massive disappointment.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: -1 (from 1 vote)
      • Moderator Mike Moderator Mike says:

        Hi Jonathan. What things about Self Design worked well for your daughter? What would you like her public school experience to offer her that it doesn’t now?

        VN:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
  21. Nancy Pylypiuk says:

    I would love to see a “reporting” process that is more about a conversation than a print-out from a computer in the office that is already a week or two stale by the time it lands in a parent’s hands. I conduct student-teacher conferences in my high school English classroom and student-led conferences during Parent Teacher Interview night and I have always been amazed by how powerful those experiences are for all involved. I would like to see a process for communicating student learning to parents that is more reflective of a conversation about strengths, passions, areas for improvement and growth. I would like to see dedicated, non-instructional time set aside during final reporting periods for these conversations to take place, perhaps with the invitation for parent participation where appropriate.

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +4 (from 4 votes)
  22. Krista Robinson says:

    If learning is truly going to be personalized for each student, why then are there still going to be grades? A students age is not a determining factor in what level of learning the student is currently at, so why then are we continuing to group students this way? Students progress at different rates and their motivation and passion varies by subject and changes throughout their schooling based on what they feel they “need” to learn. There has to be a better way to group students…

    VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
    Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)
    • Gordon says:

      I agree with Krista. Too much factory conveyor belt within how we structure the present system which is a better fit for satisfying uniformity of production rather than meeting the diversity of learning interests and needs. Learning for all should be based upon the B.C. Principles of Learning which state:
      .learning requires the active participation of the student
      • people learn in a variety of ways and at different rates
      • learning is both an individual and a group process

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +1 (from 3 votes)
      • DJ says:

        I really want to know how this is done. I look at my child’s classroom and think if I have 26 students in one room and they are to be learning in an individual way how is the teacher going to make significant learning happen for a grade 2 student with, 6×60 / 26 = 13.8, 15 minutes a day to dedicate to each student???

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
    • Pei says:

      I agree. If we’re truly concerned about individualized learning, students should be allowed to advance when ready (not arbitrarily assigned to a grade by age or birthdate!!).

      Backgrounder: My daughter had picked up pen and paper at 18 months old…knows her alphabet by 2 years old, learn to read, spell, and do math by K (quite motivated, sometimes frustrating for parents!), enrolled in kinderdergarten after having attended 3 pre-schools and was very bored throughout the year (cause we parents have run out of ideas to entertain an inquisitve small learner). In Grade 1, upon returning home, when asked how school was…”it was boring” was a standard reply. We’re learning the alphabet still (letter H).

      It’s all great to say there’s flexibility, individualized learning, student-centered…but they system needs to have the support to recognize students with strong abilities and assist them as well as students with learning needs.

      I believe there are too few programs in the province that recognize and train “advanced” students. Students in suburban centres do not get the attention of Point-Grey neighbourshoods.

      Just my 2 cents.

      VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
      Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
      • CJ MacKinnon-Scott says:

        I think – to put a finer point on PEI’s comment – students need to be recognized and supported at their ability level – regardless of where in the spectrum of ‘advanced’ to ‘learning needs’ they are. Aren’t classifications of student abilities just another measurement construct? I think we ‘educators’ need to stop measuring students against a ‘norm’ or bell curve, and learn instead ways to recognize their areas of competence and support their areas of learning needs which are as individual and unique as they are. I am willing to wager that most – if not all – students are ‘advanced’ in some areas, and have learning needs that require support until they reach competence in other areas.

        What a different educational environment we would foster if every student could be educated to recognize their own competence and their own need for support in learning, an environment where students felt confident that the teacher-mentors in their lives were there to facilitate their own individual learning path instead of directing them along one path that arched into a spectral bell curve, to which they were pinned and labelled. Who says all roads can’t lead to Rome?

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: 0 (from 2 votes)
      • Todd P says:

        The ministry/school boards have systematically been cutting funding for gifted students in many school districts. Ask your trustees why and push for that funding to be restored.

        VA:F [1.9.16_1159]
        Rating: +6 (from 6 votes)