real school reform (and a changing view of attendance proposed in Canada)

Joe Bower's wonderful blog posted this item about changes under consideration in Alberta, Canada regarding education. From the post:
The Attendance Board mandate will reflect flexible timing and pacing in meeting students’ instructional needs, and will shift focus from “attending school” to “participating in an education program”.
Joe Bower is a teacher who abolished grading  in his classroom in Canada.

Joe refers to the Inspiring Education Conference in Alberta (this is the Alberta Inspiring Education site: the RAS video is up there at their Dept of Ed!) and you can see what real education reform looks like when you take a look at some of the PDF information Joe links to at his site:

Bold and Courageous Ideas and Decisions

Every community conversation generated a large number of specific recommendations for “bold and courageous” changes to education. Overall, similar kinds of ideas were raised in each session, although the emphasis on these ideas or themes varied slightly across communities. The most frequently generated “bold and courageous” ideas and decisions suggested by participants were:
Take a Courageous Look at the Existing School Structure: Change the school so it is not based on the factory model Change the grouping of students Change and/or eliminate grading
Change the timing and/or length of the school day and year Create smaller class sizes Global classrooms where thousands of students are learning the same things at the same time Consider creating a school which is a hub for the community and wrap-around services 
Update and Change Curriculum and Instruction: Develop a well-rounded curriculum which includes the arts, physical education, music, etc. Bring more experts into the school (especially trades) Allow for experiential learning – real life learning Introduce more options into high school, allowing for job and career exposure Develop more individualized and differentiated learning Teach children how to think critically, to access information and to assess it Students determine what they learn and the teacher facilitates 
Develop New Governance Structures: More broad-based governance
More local and community governance Effective inter-ministry collaboration (in the Alberta Government) Increase parental and family engagement with education Ensure students have a voice 
Engage the Wider Community in Education: Bring the community into the school Take the school out into the community Include service-based (community volunteer) learning as part of the requirements 
Develop New Methods of Assessment and Evaluation Focus on assessment for learning Measure competencies, not knowledge Dont teach to the test 
Technology Use technology to deliver services to rural communities Technology and learning need to be integrated everywhere All students should have their own computers and be able to work anywhere 
Revise Current Teacher Preparation, Support and Professional Development: Review certification and the role of the Alberta Teachers Association Review role of post-secondary education of teachers (teacher training and preparation) Ensure effective, ongoing professional development (constant upgrading of knowledge and skills) 
New Ideas for Funding Change current funding model based on Carnegie unit to an outcome-based model Re-model funding so that there are equitable opportunities for rural and urban children

It is a great start:  some of the confusion in "governance structures" would be clearer is they changed compulsory attendance laws and thereby made schools serve families instead of families supply children for jobs in administration.


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