Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools is considering piloting math for the UCP’s new K-Grade 6 curriculum in the fall it was announced during its April 22 board meeting.
“Our admin team looked at this and said ‘do we want to do this in the context of COVID?’ and our non-negotiables were is it good for kids and is it good for staff,” said Scott Morrison, CTR Catholic superintendent said, in an interview after the board meeting. “We had the attitude of what would we be willing to take on?”
He said after consultation with teachers and principals there was a consensus to consider taking on the math pilot.
There was no objection from trustees at the meeting for administration to move forward with considering taking on the math pilot (there was not a formal vote). The division is not considering piloting other subjects in the new curriculum at this time.
The UCP’s proposed curriculum, to be piloted in September and introduced in the fall of 2022, has faced stiff opposition. Foothills School Division voted not to pilot any portion of the curriculum at its April 14 meeting. Major school boards such as Calgary Board of Education, Edmonton Public Schools, and Lethbridge School Division have also said they will not have their schools pilot the curriculum. Smaller divisions across Alberta have also opted out.
Although considering doing the Math pilot, CTR Catholic has set its own conditions.
“First of all, CTR Catholic teachers need to volunteer to do summer work. Second of all, that summer work has to be done and they produce a product that is perfect,” Morrison said. “Then teachers have to tell us if they want to opt in.
“Our final call isn’t until August.”
That product produced by teachers working in the summer session is curriculum support documents for their CTR Catholic peers.
He said the bottom line is if there is teachers’ interest right from the start, “it makes it more likely for the pilot to move forward."
“If we proceed with developing curriculum support documents and end up choosing not to pilot, we will have still provided our elementary math teachers with the most comprehensive, intense, and focused professional learning of their careers,” Morrison said in a letter to parents. “Their skills will be enhanced and they will be better math teachers as a result.”
Jason Schilling, Alberta Teachers’ Association president, announced earlier this month that 91 per cent of teachers in the province were opposed to the new curriculum (not restricted to math).
Morrison said the division isn’t facing those same numbers at CTR Catholic.
“We did a consultation with teachers on doing a limited pilot,” Morrison said. “We initially had proposed doing more subjects. In response to that 27 per cent of our staff said they would be willing to spend two weeks of their summer developing curriculum support documents.
“And close to 50 per cent said they would consider piloting a curriculum once they saw the support documents.
“The initial indication is teachers are interested in doing work that will make them grow."
CTR Catholic has put an emphasis on numeracy for the past five to seven years, after focusing on literacy.
“A lot of the new (math) curriculum aligns with the old curriculum,” Morrison said. “The new curriculum indicates they want standard algorithms taught – the most standard way to attack math.”
He said CTR Catholic has always infused its math curriculum with critical thinking, problem solving and communication.
“We want to ensure kids are applying that math to real-life context," Morrison said.
Okotoks trustee Ron Schreiber, the division chairman, supported moving forward to considering piloting the math project.
“I am very supportive of where you are going with this,” he told Morrison at the meeting. “I say full-steam ahead and make the plan the best it can be.”
Andrea Keenan, Foothills County trustee, agreed.
“It was well thought-out by admin,” she said. “It is going to be good.”
CTR Catholic had the fourth largest enrolment of separate school divisions in the province in 2019-2020. It has schools in Okotoks, High River, Oyen, Drumheller, Strathmore, Brooks and Canmore.
It also has extensive at-home and online learning through its Centre For Learning and St. Paul’s Academy.