Table of contents

Alberta Education vision

The ministry supports students in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to form the foundations for successful and fulfilling lives, and to make meaningful contributions to their communities and the world. Key outcomes are focused on providing policy direction, funding and assurance to the Kindergarten to Grade 12 education system so that all students are successful at learning.

Ministerial order on student learning

Ministerial Order
Education Act, Section 18(2)(b)

This ministerial order sets the goals and standards for student learning outcomes.

Programming principles

Education Act, Section 18(1)

The development of programs to meet the educational needs of students involves multiple levels of planning and decision making. At the provincial level, in accordance with section 18(1)(a) of the Education Act, planning takes place through the development of programs of study/curriculum. Programs of study/curriculum identify the learning outcomes for all subject-area courses and programs. Alberta Education seeks broad input from educators, business, industry, post-secondary institutions and the community in planning programs of study/curriculum. Programs of study/curriculum are established at the provincial level and apply to all students.

At the local level, planning involves decisions about how programs of study/curriculum can best be implemented with particular groups of students and with individual students. This type of planning is referred to as programming.

Programming takes place at the local level and is concerned with effective delivery of the programs of study/curriculum to the students enrolled. Programming decisions are made by school authorities, schools, teachers and students. Programming involves a variety of processes for ensuring effective program implementation. These processes include:

  • identifying outcomes for learning (based on programs of study/curriculum and student progress)
  • organizing for instruction (including the grade configuration of schools)
  • selecting learning activities
  • selecting learning resources
  • assessing student progress
  • evaluating student progress
  • providing time for learning based on student progress

Programming decisions are best made at the local level to ensure that the scope of the programs offered and the delivery of those programs are responsive to the learning needs of all students. Decision making at the local level also provides the opportunity for effective use of local resources and for local guidelines to be recognized. This is done in many different ways (for example, by introducing enrichment activities, optional courses, alternative programs, off-campus education programming, mentoring and adjustments in instructional time).

General principles for effective programming

The following principles provide a general guide for programming:

Outcomes are clearly defined

Progress in learning is enhanced when the student, the parents and the teacher have a clear understanding of what is to be achieved. A shared understanding of what is expected enables the student, the parents and the teacher to work together.

The selection of outcomes for student learning must be based on the programs of study/curriculum. These outcomes should be linked to specific ways in which students can demonstrate their learning.

Outcomes are most clear when the means of determining student progress are identified and exemplars are provided and communicated to all involved.

Planning is based on assessments of student progress

Ongoing assessment of student progress informs the student, parents and teacher of what has been achieved and what is yet to be achieved. Learning and instruction should be consistent with student abilities and should set appropriate levels of challenge.

Learning experiences are connected

Student learning is cumulative and takes place in a variety of formal and informal settings. Learning is enhanced when what is learned in one setting reinforces and extends what has been and is being learned in others.

  • Communication Between School and Home
    • Parents are the first and ongoing educators of their children. Schools should enable families to continue their involvement in their children’s education. The linkage between school and home enables teachers and parents to exchange information, jointly support student learning and ensure the continuity of learning experiences.
  • Connections Across Subject Areas
    • There are many opportunities to connect and apply what students learn in one subject area with what they learn in other subject areas. By making these connections, student learning in each subject area is enhanced and the ability to apply learning in new situations is improved. This helps students see the world as a connected whole instead of in a fragmented way.
  • Partnerships Between School and Community
    • What students learn in school is enhanced when applied and extended in the community. Involvement in projects, community service activities, mentorship programs and job shadowing makes learning more relevant. Involvement in these activities also may provide significant role models for students and an opportunity for them to explore future career possibilities.
  • Consistency Between Programs of Study/curriculum and Assessment 
    • Student learning is reinforced when what is taught is reflected in what is assessed. The methods used in assessing student progress, as well as mastery of the subject matter, should be consistent with the outcomes that have been communicated to students.
  • Coordination Between Schools
    • When students change schools, the coordination of programming and assessment practices between schools can help achieve a smooth transition. Disruptions can be minimized when the receiving school is provided with full information on student attainment and learning characteristics. Information on student progress should be referenced directly to the programs of study/curriculum.

Programming responds to the learning progress of students

Programming involves decisions about time, resources, instructional approaches, assessment and organization for instruction. To maximize student learning, programming needs to be flexible and responsive to the learning progress of students.

Flexible programming involves:

  • using time as a resource, recognizing that students learn at different rates
  • grouping students according to educational needs and according to the characteristics of the learning activity
  • using a broad range of learning resources, with the selection of particular resources according to learner needs and learning traits
  • using a broad range of instructional strategies to provide a variety of ways for viewing subject matter as well as an opportunity for individual students to learn in their preferred modes
  • using a wide variety of examples and applications of the subject matter to provide students with an opportunity to explore and discover areas of relevance and interest
  • using a wide variety of assessment strategies to monitor student progress in all areas of the programs of study/curriculum
  • decision making about future programming based upon assessment of students

Programming responds to the developmental stages of students

During their school years, students go through many developmental stages in their intellectual, physical, emotional and social growth. The stage of student growth in each of these areas is an important consideration in developing and implementing school programs.

Indicators of effective programming

School programming is effective when it responds to the learning needs and progress of students. The following characteristics and indicators provide a description of programming that recognizes and responds to students’ learning needs:

Indicators of effective programming

Characteristics Indicators

The learning needs and progress of each student are known.

  • Parents are aware of the learning needs and educational progress of their children.
  • Teachers are aware of the characteristics and learning needs of individual students.
  • Teachers are aware of student progress in previous years.
  • Teachers are aware of student progress in other program areas.
  • Students are able to describe their learning progress, can identify what they are currently studying and can identify what they will be working on next.

Instruction is based on the student’s current level of achievement.

  • Students are able to successfully complete the learning activities they are assigned.
  • Students show continuous growth in their learning.

Connections are made between what the student already knows and what the student learns next.

  • Students can describe the relationship between what they are currently studying and what they have previously studied.
  • Students are able to apply learning in situations that require a combination of knowledge, understanding and skills from different parts of their programs.

School learning experiences provide challenge.

  • Students show interest in their studies.
  • Parents comment on student interest and achievement.
  • Students experience a wide range of approaches to learning.
  • At any given time, different students can be observed working on different tasks.
  • Students use a variety of sources to complete their work.
  • Students take initiative in and show responsibility for their learning.