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Nov 21

Chris Smeaton

Maintaining the status quo is falling behind!

Alberta continues to be recognized as one of the best educational systems in the English speaking world. Parental choice, high-quality teaching, centralized curriculum and significant government funding are examples of the many reasons for this recognition. Given that, it may be surprising to many of our public that Alberta Education and local divisions continue to talk about the need to transform our educational system.  But frankly, maintaining the status quo in today’s radically changing world is realistically falling behind.

 This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with our Minister of Education Jeff Johnson and hear him speak on a number of educational topics. As the former co-chair of Inspiring Education, it is not too difficult to fully realize that his focus has, and continues, to be on students. Holy Spirit Catholic School’s Vision Statement, “…where students are cherished and achieve their potential”, illustrates that same commitment. 

In my last column, I spoke about our work on learner intellectual engagement. This work supports the focus of Alberta Education in creating a system that produces engaged thinkers, ethical citizens with an entrepreneurial spirit. It cannot be seen as a wish but rather a requirement in order to prepare students for their future and not our past. It must be stressed that as leaders in education we cannot accept good enough! We must prepare students for a future world where the only constant is change itself. Standing on our laurels of past successes will no longer support the necessary changes in today’s classrooms. We must continue to search for best classroom practices that engage our students in meaningful learning experiences.

Alberta students have long done well on standardized, international tests. Maintaining the status quo would suggest that we continue to do what we have always done. But tomorrow requires workers with sophisticated skills that cannot be measured with only a paper and pencil test. Our education system must evolve so that students can demonstrate their learning in multiple ways. We need students who are innovative, creative and critical thinkers and that will require an accountability system that supports alternative performance assessments.

Holy Spirit is well positioned to make this leap and begin to fully engage our students with multiple assessment strategies. We are looking forward to working closely with Alberta Education because maintaining the status quo is simply not good enough!

Please Note: This article was published in the Lethbridge Herald on November 21, 2012.

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