Students head into a portable classroom in Chilliwack. Some urban centres are seeing rising enrolment. (Greg Laychak/Black Press)

Students head into a portable classroom in Chilliwack. Some urban centres are seeing rising enrolment. (Greg Laychak/Black Press)

B.C. students learning for ‘real life’ but teachers say reality needs funding

Both the numeracy and literacy assessments will replace provincial exams that were introduced in B.C. in 1984 at the Grade 12 level.

Waking up for school won’t be the only reality facing British Columbia students entering their senior high school years as ongoing curriculum changes aimed at connecting them to real-life decision making are further implemented.

The Education Ministry says the curriculum overhaul, which was implemented for kindergarten to Grade 9 students in 2016, is designed to allow for more critical thinking, collaboration and communication in applying information learned in the classroom to everyday situations.

Changes starting earlier this year mean students in Grade 10 are no longer required to write a provincial math exam but must instead complete a numeracy assessment that incorporates knowledge from various subjects. The assessment can be completed in any year between Grades 10 and 12.

The ministry provided a sample assessment that included a hypothetical news report about nine British Columbia communities’ “skyrocketing” water use plotted on a graph, along with other information. Students would be required to answer 12 questions, including those based on how a family could save on its weekly water consumption.

Some questions are based on First Nations’ former practice of living in circular homes called pit houses, requiring students to estimate their height, living space and dimensions of the top opening.

The provincial English exam will also be scrapped next year for students in Grade 12. Instead, students will complete a literacy assessment that is still being developed.

Both the numeracy and literacy assessments will replace provincial exams that were introduced in B.C. in 1984 at the Grade 12 level.

“Many provinces are moving in the direction of competency-based curricula, with B.C. one of the leaders in this area,” the Education Ministry said in a statement.

Results from the assessments will not be blended with classroom marks because they are not tied to a particular course, the ministry said, adding results will be tied to a four-point proficiency scale that will be recorded on students’ transcripts.

Education Minister Rob Fleming said modernizing the curriculum and graduation program will help ensure students are armed with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed whether they move on to university or trades training.

“The world is changing and it’s our duty to make sure kids are ready to succeed in that changing world,” he said in a statement.

Peter Liljedahl, a professor and associate dean of graduate studies in the faculty of education at Simon Fraser University, said numeracy applies math in realistic settings and includes planning and budgeting around costs, time and space.

For example, students would learn to interpret graphs containing information about elections or estimate the time required for several tasks, including driving to a certain destination, and working backwards to determine what time an alarm should be set to start the day.

“It is absolutely real life. And it’s about making sure you’re able to utilize mathematics,” Liljedahl said, adding students writing the numeracy assessment would be using what they’ve learned in multiple subjects throughout their education so individual teachers aren’t responsible for it.

Related: B.C. teachers’ union fires at government for lack of teachers, supplies

Related: More students, more pressure in B.C. school system

Related: Vernon teacher, education assistant finalist for provincial awards

Teresa Harwood, whose son Jason Depka will be starting Grade 10 this week, said the new numeracy and literacy assessments would be a good fit for the “hands-on guy” who may be headed for a career in the trades sector.

“In general, I think that’s a good thing,” she said of the curriculum changes. “If you’re not on an academic stream then those types of real-life situations, I think, are going to be helpful to students moving forward as they get into the work world, even learning how to budget at home.”

However, she said her older son, Matt Depka, who graduated a year ago, benefited from writing the provincial English exam in Grade 12 because it prepared him for university.

But he was anxious about the results, which counted for 40 per cent of his overall English mark, she said from her home in Nanaimo.

“Thinking about it coming up was extremely anxiety inducing, the thought of it affecting his mark and therefore affecting his entrance to university,” she said of her son, who is on the autism spectrum and found it challenging to write an exam containing texts he hadn’t learned about in class.

Teri Mooring, first vice-president of the B.C. Teachers Federation, said overall, the union has been supportive of the curriculum changes though “we do have concerns around timing and resources.”

“Many of our members feel that they haven’t been given enough support through additional non-instructional days to learn about the changes and prepare for them,” she said in a statement.

“Our members need up-to-date learning resources to actually do the teaching,” she said, adding students are using old textbooks.

Teachers also require access to local resources to help incorporate Indigenous content into all subjects and materials to teach new courses including the sexual health curriculum, Mooring said.

“We want to continue to work with government on these changes, but we need to see a larger funding commitment to ensure the changes are a success.”

The ministry said it’s in the process of identifying additional resources and supports to help teachers.

Camille Bains, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

École Kelowna Senior Secondary School had COVID-19 exposures on May 5, according to Interior Health. (Contributed)
COVID-19 exposures confirmed at Kelowna high school

The Central Okanagan School District didn’t specify how many cases there were

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Kentucky has more bourbon than people

Your morning start for Thursday, May 6, 2021

(James Holmes/Contributed)
Kelowna chef to compete on the Food Network’s Fire Masters

Chef James Holmes will compete for $10K on an upcoming episode of Fire Masters

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

Fernando’s Pub is set to reopen on May 17 following a lengthy winter closure, allowing Kelowna residents to again enjoy the pub’s famed avocado margarita. (Fernando’s Pub/Facebook)
Downtown Kelowna’s Fernando’s Pub set to reopen after winter closure

Fernando’s has announced it will begin welcoming its patrons back on May 17

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

A black bear made a visit to downtown Vancouver Tuesday, May 4. The animal was spotted on train tracks in Gastown shortly after at 2:30 p.m. (Twitter/Craig Minielly)
VIDEO: Black bear spotted meandering around downtown Vancouver

The bear was reportedly tranquilized by conservation officers Tuesday afternoon

Southbound traffic was reduced to single lane on Highway 97 as a vehicle involved in a collision was being retrieved by a tow truck on Thursday morning, May 6, 2021. (Jennifer Smith-Vernon Morning Star)
Collision causing delays on Highway 97 near Vernon

Southbound traffic reduced to single lane

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Arrest made after man spits, yells anti-Asian racial slurs at Victoria mom and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

A lady wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada may find it challenging to reach herd immunity from COVID-19, experts say

Level of immunity among the population changes with the variants, especially the more transmissible strains

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Kingfisher Boats photo)
In the market for a boat in the North Okanagan? Be prepared to wait

Vernon’s Kingfisher Boats is out of 2021 models, with many 2022 models already pre-sold

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

Most Read