Opportunities for Post-Secondary Education: Responding to British Columbia’s New K-12 Curriculum

British Columbia has a new Kindergarten (K) – Grade 12 curriculum. K to Grade 9 was rolled out in Fall of 2016. Grade 10 curriculum will be mandatory in Fall of 2018 and Grades 11 and 12 will follow in Fall of 2019. The new curriculum model was built on research, global best practices and consultations with teachers and education leaders in BC. Five of the key changes are shared on this blog post.

Changes in the classroom, in student learning and in the system, is going to take some time to be successfully deployed, implemented and integrated. In addition, as with any large change initiative, resources, time, money and other needs are key for success. Change management components and clear communication strategies are also necessary for all involved including the K-12 and PSE sectors. BC is a way into this implementation, but there is still much to be done in terms of informing, resourcing and providing answers to important questions. There are successes happening, as well as challenges and uncertainty across the province.

While the new K-12 curriculum is gradually being implemented, other groups (those in BC’s post-secondary institutions, BCRABCTLC, BCCAT) are having conversations about impacts on admissions, changes in curriculum for post-secondary courses, what the new learners will be like when they enter university or college, will the students be successful in post-secondary education – among other topics. Each post-secondary institution will face different challenges and successes with the new K-12 curriculum as each institution appeals to different groups of applicants.

The K-12 curriculum changes are significant and will definitely have some level of impact on post-secondary classes and courses, especially given the qualities and attributes grade 12 graduates may possess upon entry. So, it is worthy to stop and look at what those changes might be and how post-secondary institutions could respond to create opportunities for a more seamless learning experience for students.

New Student of Tomorrow?

Local domestic students in BC’s post-secondary institutions may be arriving:

  • with more awareness of their learning strengths and abilities
  • a greater focus on what they can ‘do’ versus what they ‘know’
  • awareness of ‘big ideas’ in a discipline for a course or a program
  • having dived deeper into certain concepts and principles in some subject areas (more of a focus of learning a topic in more depth, than many topics at a shallow level)
  • more engaged and aware of six core competencies for life-long learning (including communication, creative thinking, critical thinking, positive personal and cultural identity, personal awareness and responsibility and social responsibility)
  • with more choice and ownership of own learning
  • more involved in reflecting upon, sharing and communicating their accomplishments to parents, peers and teachers
  • having built a ‘capstone project’ in Grade 12
  • more aware of Aboriginal perspectives and worldviews

What other characteristics might students have after engagement with the new K-12 curriculum?

Possible Post-Secondary Responses

Post-secondary instructors may have an opportunity to:

  1. Learn more about the changes in the K-12 curriculum and how it might impact their discipline, program and/or course (e.g., ask questions, fill in gaps of knowledge, clarify areas where needing more detail etc.)
  2. Revisit and re-examine their curriculum (e.g., changes to K-12 curriculum might affect post-secondary curriculum to ensure students are suitably able to build upon knowledge and skills they have and have not acquired)
  3. Enhance curriculum connections with some similar components like big ideas, learning strategies, core competencies (e.g., look at institutional ‘graduate attributes or learning outcomes’ and see how they connect to Core Competencies, add in ‘big ideas’ to course syllabi etc.)
  4. Re-examine their instructional and assessment methods (e.g., to ensure there is suitable pathways for learners to develop and apply their new learning, continue on a more seamless journey from Grade 12 etc.)
  5. Examine institutional admissions processes (e.g., are all new Gr. 10-12 course names updated, do admission’s details change with new course structures and content in Grades 10-12?)
  6. Build more collaborations and connections with K-12 educators to learn from each other about the way learning is happening (e.g., have science teachers at local high schools visit post-secondary institutions to engage in conversations about the learning journey for students and vice versa, bring together K-12 and PSE educators over gatherings focused on key topics and ideas)
  7. Link with local School Districts to share professional learning experiences about the new curriculum, instruction and assessment (e.g., build relationships to learn what K-12 teachers are engaging in with respect to professional development and training on the new curriculum, possibly co-participate in some of those sessions)

What other opportunities might be available to post-secondary institutions and instructors?

Resources for Ideas

Here are some articles on ways K-12 and PSE educators collaborate and connect for student learning: