Minimum Hours of Instruction: Grade 1 to Grade 9

To ensure equitable access for Grade 1 to Grade 9 students, a minimum number of instructional hours is specified. The organization of schools at these grade levels is the responsibility of the school authority.

As per the Funding Manual for School Authorities, and to allow for a balanced program that leads to the student learning outcomes outlined in the Ministerial Order on Student Learning, schools must provide Grade 1 to Grade 9 students with a minimum of 950 hours of instruction per year in each grade.

For individual Grade 1 students, alternative minimum times are permissible to ensure a smooth transition from ECS.

Definition of Instruction: Grade 1 to Grade 9

Instruction is the process in which Alberta certificated teachers take responsibility for ensuring that learning activities for students are directed toward achieving the outcomes of approved programs of study and/or individualized program plans/instructional support plans through

  • interaction with students, either face-to-face or through technology, for the purpose of teaching and assessing student achievement of outcomes, and/or
  • interaction with students who are engaged in classroom learning, independent study, online education and/or distance education, and/or
  • supervision of student workplace learning

Instructional Time: Grade 1 to Grade 9

Instructional time includes time scheduled for purposes of instruction, examinations/testing and other student activities where direct student–teacher interaction and supervision are maintained.

Instructional time does not include

  • teacher convention days
  • professional development days
  • parent–teacher interview days
  • teacher planning days
  • staff meetings
  • statutory and school authority–declared holidays
  • lunch breaks
  • breaks between classes
  • recesses
  • time taken for the registration of students
  • extracurricular activities

Organization of Instructional Time

The following requirements and considerations apply to the organization of instructional time:

  • As per the Funding Manual for School Authorities, all students must be provided with a minimum number of hours of instruction. See Minimum Hours of Instruction: Early Childhood Services and Minimum Hours of Instruction: Grade 1 to Grade 9 in this section.
  • Subject to the above requirement, decisions on the organization and scheduling of instructional time are a school authority matter and should be flexible enough on a daily, weekly and yearly basis to meet the learning needs of students.
  • Organization for instruction may be based on an integrated programming model in which the outcomes from two or more subject areas are addressed within a common time block.
  • All students should be provided sufficient opportunity to achieve the outcomes outlined in the programs of study. To assist schools in planning, recommendations regarding the apportioning of instructional time for required and optional subjects are provided in the subsections that follow.

Information and Communication Technology

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Program of Studies identifies the technology outcomes that students should achieve by the end of grades 3, 6, 9 and 12 to ensure they are prepared for the workplace, further studies and lifelong learning. Proficiency with technology has become an essential skill in almost every area of human endeavour. Students need to have these basic skills along with the skills found in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. Although the technology outcomes form a program of studies, they are not intended to be taught as a stand-alone course but rather within the context of other subject areas.

Daily Physical Activity (Grade 1 to Grade 9)

The goal of daily physical activity (DPA) is to increase students’ physical activity levels. DPA is based on the belief that healthy students are better able to learn and that school communities provide supportive environments for students to develop positive habits needed for a healthy, active lifestyle. Daily Physical Activity: A Handbook for Grades 1–9 Schools supports the implementation of DPA. For more information, see the Daily Physical Activity Policy.

Schools have the responsibility of creating and nurturing a learning environment for students that supports the development of healthy lifestyles and a lifelong habit of daily physical activity.

School authorities are to monitor the implementation of DPA to ensure that all students are active for a minimum of 30 minutes daily. Exemptions from DPA may be granted by the principal under the following conditions:

  • religious beliefs—upon written statement from the parent to the principal
  • medical reasons—certification to the principal by a medical practitioner indicating activities in which the student is not able to participate

Daily physical activities should vary in form and intensity and take into account each student’s ability. Teachers should consider resources available within the school and the larger community to allow for student choice.

School authorities have the flexibility to use instructional and/or non-instructional hours to implement DPA.

  • Physical education classes are an appropriate strategy to meet the DPA requirement.
  • DPA should be offered in as large a block of time as possible but can be offered in time segments adding up to the minimum 30 minutes per day (e.g., two 15-minute blocks of time for a total of 30 minutes).
  • DPA can be incorporated throughout the day and integrated into other subject areas.

The School Physical Activity, Health & Education Resource for Safety (SPHEReS) has been developed to assist school authorities in their formulation of site-specific safety guidelines for physical activity in Alberta schools. Implementation of safety guidelines should in all cases be preceded by a close review of the information in SPHEReS, with appropriate modification on the part of each school authority in order to meet the specific requirements and circumstances of their respective school programs.

English as a Second Language

Students who are English language learners may require English as a second language (ESL) program planning and instructional supports to achieve grade-level expectations and reach their full potential. For information on coding and funding for students who are English language learners, refer to the Funding Manual for School Authorities.

Kindergarten to Grade 9 schools with students who are English language learners should refer to the Supporting English Language Learners web page and Working with Young Children Who Are Learning English as a New Language.

Annual language proficiency assessments and ongoing monitoring and documentation of students’ language proficiency development is required to inform instructional planning and the provision of timely and appropriate learning supports.

A student who was born outside of Canada and has entered Canada as a refugee will typically require English as a second language (ESL) or Francisation supports as well as significant additional supports and services to deal with issues such as limited or disrupted formal schooling, traumatic events and adjusting to an unfamiliar culture.

The Alberta K–12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks, located on the Supporting English Language Learners web page, have been developed to guide ESL programming and to support teachers in assessing and reporting the progress of English language learners.

For more information, see English as a Second Language on Alberta.ca or contact the Early Middle Years (K–9) Branch.

For contact information see Appendix 1.

Elementary Program

In planning for instruction in the elementary grades, the following percentage of time allocations for the school year are recommended for required and optional subject areas. Individual students may require varying times to meet the learning outcomes in each subject area.

Percentage of Time Allocations Recommended

Grade 1 and Grade 2

1French language arts is taught in alternative French language programs (including French immersion).
2 Français is taught in Francophone schools.
3 The recommended time is 10% for schools that implement provincial programs of study for French as a second language, First Nations, Métis and Inuit language and culture programs or international language and culture programs.
Subject Areas English Language Programming Percentage Francophone/French Immersion Programming Percentage
English Language Arts 30% 30%
French Language Arts1Œ/Français2 0%
Mathematics 15% 15%
Science 10% 10%
Social Studies 10% 10%
Art and Music 10% 10%
Health and Life Skills and Physical Education 10% 10%
Time for other subjects (e.g., second languages,3Ž drama, locally developed courses, religious instruction) 15% 15%

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) learning outcomes are infused within core curricula in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies at all grade levels.

Grade 3 through Grade 6

1French language arts is taught in alternative French language programs (including French immersion).
2 Français is taught in Francophone schools.
3 The recommended time is 10% for schools that implement provincial programs of study for French as a second language, First Nations, Métis and Inuit language and culture programs or international language and culture programs.
Subject Areas English Language Programming Percentage Francophone/French Immersion Programming Percentage
English Language Arts 25% 35%
French Language Arts1Œ/Français2 0%
Mathematics 15% 15%
Science 15% 10%
Social Studies 10% 10%
Art and Music 10% 10%
Health and Life Skills and Physical Education 10% 10%
Time for other subjects (e.g., second languages,3Ž drama, locally developed courses, religious instruction, Career and Technology Foundations) 15% 10%

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) learning outcomes are infused within core curricula in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies at all grade levels.

Elementary Program Optional Subjects

Education Act, Section 53(2)(a)

At the elementary level, programming may include one or more optional subjects. The following are optional subjects for which learning outcomes have been developed at the provincial level:

Optional subjects may also be developed at the local level and be approved by a resolution or a motion of the board of a school authority or governing body of a private school as locally developed courses.

Junior High Program

The primary consideration that schools need to take into account when organizing for instruction is to provide their students with an opportunity to meet all of the requirements of education in Alberta. The junior high school program should be organized within the context of the outcomes included in the Ministerial Order on Student Learning.

A course in junior high school represents a set of specific knowledge, skills and attitudes. Most students can achieve these outcomes in the recommended time; however, it is recognized that some students can acquire the knowledge, skills and attitudes specified in a course of studies in less than the recommended time, while others may require more time.

Recommended Time Allotments for Required Subject Areas

Junior High School Program

1Français is taught in Francophone schools.
2 French language arts is taught in alternative French language programs (including French immersion).
3 Programs of study for Fine Arts are designed as 75-hour courses at each level.
4 The recommended time allocation is 95 hours for schools that implement provincial programs of study or locally developed courses for French as a second language, First Nations, Métis and Inuit language and culture programs or international language and culture programs.
Subject Areas English Language Programming (hours per year) Francophone/French Immersion Programming (hours per year)
English Language Arts 150 250
Français1Œ/or French Language Arts2 0
Mathematics 100 100
Science 100 100
Social Studies 100 100
Physical Education 75 75
Health and Life Skills 50 50
Optional Courses3 including Second Languages4 (time may vary) (time may vary)
Total hours of instruction: 950 hours 950 hours

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) learning outcomes are infused within core curricula in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies at all grade levels.

Recommended Time Allotments for Instruction in a Language Other than English or French

Education Act, Section 17

For schools offering instruction in a language other than English or French, the recommended time allotments for subject areas apply. In addition to English language arts, it is recommended there be a minimum of 150 hours of language arts instruction in the language of study.

Junior High Optional Courses

Optional courses help students achieve the outcomes outlined in the Program Foundations section. Optional courses also reinforce learnings in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies, and provide learning opportunities in other subject areas.

Sequencing

Students should be encouraged to continue in Grade 8 and Grade 9 with at least one of the optional courses selected in Grade 7.

Optional Courses

Schools shall offer two optional courses listed below. Where instruction is offered in a language other than English, only one other optional course is required:

Career and Technology Foundations (CTF) / Career and Technology Studies (CTS)

Environmental and Outdoor Education

Ethics

  • This course may be offered in Grade 7, Grade 8 or Grade 9.

Fine Arts

  • Art
  • Drama
  • Music
    • Choral
    • General
    • Instrumental

First Nations, Métis and Inuit Languages

  • Provincial programs for First Nations, Métis and Inuit languages are outlined in the chart in the Language Programs/Course Sequences/Courses section.
  • Local language programs may be approved locally developed courses.

French as a Second Language

International Languages

  • Provincial programs of study are available for bilingual as well as language and culture programming.
  • Provincial programs for international languages available at the junior high school level are outlined in the chart in the Language Programs/Course Sequences/Courses section.
  • Local language programs may be approved locally developed courses.

Knowledge and Employability Occupational Courses (Grade 8 and Grade 9)

Locally Developed Courses

Locally Developed Religious Studies Courses

  • Religious studies instruction may be offered under section 58 of the Education Act as locally developed religious studies courses.

Junior High Course Selections

A student’s choice of courses is subject to the approval of the principal, except where a student (aged 16 or over) elects to take online learning or print-based distance education courses. Principals should ensure that students are made aware of programs available to meet their individual educational needs and that parents understand and concur with their children’s course selections.

Planning in Junior High for Senior High School Programs

Students should be provided with assistance in planning their senior high school programs while they are still in junior high school. Certain courses are required for an Alberta High School Diploma or a Certificate of High School Achievement. Some Grade 10 courses are prerequisites for more advanced senior high school courses. When junior high school students are planning their Grade 10 programs, all students and parents should become familiar with the prerequisites to avoid possible difficulties in the later senior high school years.

For example, in mathematics, students need to focus on their strengths and determine what they are likely to do after Grade 12. In Grade 10, students will take either Mathematics 10C or 10-3, with the 10C course leading to either the -1 or -2 course sequence. The -1 course sequence (20-1, 30-1) is designed for students whose post-secondary studies may require the study of calculus. The -2 course sequence (20-2, 30-2) is designed for students whose post-secondary studies do not require the study of calculus. The -3 course sequence (10-3, 20-3, 30-3) is designed for students pursuing apprenticeship programs or for those directly entering into the workforce. For students who meet the criteria, the Knowledge and Employability Mathematics 10-4 and 20-4 courses are also available. Also see Programming for High School Completion and Beyond in the Program Planning – Senior High School section.

When assisting students in planning their programs, junior high school staff should ensure that students discuss their proposed programs with their parents and keep in mind the specific requirements for high school completion.

Career Plans

Schools are encouraged to require students to develop a program and career plan when beginning junior high school. The plan should be updated annually and signed off annually by the parents and the principal.

For more information about career planning, see the ALIS website.