Programs of Study

Education Act, Section 18(1)

Alberta Education develops programs of study in both English and French. The programs of study are prescribed by the Minister pursuant to section 18(1) of the Education Act.

Mandatory requirements for programs and courses are outlined in the programs or courses of study, each of which contains the following components:

  • Program Rationale and Philosophy
  • Outcomes
    • General Outcomes
    • Specific Outcomes

See Alberta.ca for all programs of study.

Inclusive Education

Education Act, Preamble, Section 33(1)(e)
Inclusive Education Policy

The Education Act recognizes the importance of an inclusive education system that provides each student with relevant learning opportunities and supports necessary to achieve success.

Inclusive education demonstrates universal acceptance and belonging of all learners, values choice and promotes equity of educational opportunities for all. Anticipating, valuing and supporting diversity requires schools to accept responsibility for all learners, adapt and respond to learner differences, and incorporate diverse cultural perspectives and ways of knowing.

Six inter-related principles are the foundation to inclusive education in Alberta. These principles guide and inform evidence-informed decision-making and learner-centred instructional planning. School authorities are to use these principles as criteria for reviewing and revising existing policies, guidelines, procedures and practices, as well as informing the development of new policies and procedures related to creating and sustaining inclusive learning environments.

In addition, the Education Act sets specific obligations for school boards (public, separate and Francophone regional authorities) and charter schools to provide a continuum of supports and services that can be accessed by any student in a manner consistent with the principles of inclusive education. All Alberta school authorities (which include public, separate and Francophone regional authorities, charter schools and registered private schools) are required to ensure students and staff members are provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity and fosters a sense of belonging.

Alberta Education has produced a number of resources, videos, templates and tools that include information and strategies for supporting diverse learning and support the implementation of the Inclusive Education Policy.

Supports and Services for Children

Alberta Education supports the education of children who require specialized supports and services. Section 21(1) of the Education Act states that a board or, with the approval of the Minister, a person may provide an early childhood services program. A program may be provided to a child who, as of September 1, is younger than 6 years of age, if the parent of the child requests it.

A child attending an early childhood services (ECS) program is not considered a resident of the board, or entitled to any of the rights or benefits given to a student under the Act.

Standards for the Provision of Early Childhood Special Education outlines school authority program delivery requirements and expectations that support Alberta Education’s objective of providing consistent direction while supporting flexibility and discretion at the local school authority level.

As per section E1.2(5) of the Funding Manual for School Authorities, an approved ECS operator must be prepared to accept and organize programming for all funded children for whom programming is requested, including children who require specialized supports and services. This programming:

  • is based on an individualized program plan (IPP) or instructional support plan (ISP); all children who require specialized supports and services, including children who are gifted and talented, require IPPs/ISPs
  • provides parents with opportunities to participate in decisions affecting their children’s education
  • may be provided in a variety of settings
  • is based on the results of continuous assessment and evaluation
  • is individually and developmentally appropriate
  • includes a collaborative approach to ensure coordinated service delivery when other agencies and service providers are involved

Alberta Education has developed a set of Early Childhood Services Fact Sheets. For more information, contact School Accreditation, Standards and Print Services. For contact information, see Appendix 1.

Supports and Services for Students

Education Act, Section 11(4)

For some students, full participation in learning requires that they receive specialized supports and services. By collecting and using relevant student data, school boards (public, separate and Francophone regional authorities), charter schools and designated special education private schools determine if individual students are in need of specialized supports and services, based on behavioural, intellectual, learning, communication or physical characteristics, or a combination of any of them, that may impair the student’s ability and opportunity to learn.

Parents have a right and a responsibility to work with boards to make informed and evidence-based decisions with respect to the education of their children.

When individual students require specialized supports and services, an instructional support plan (ISP) or individualized program plan (IPP) is collaboratively developed to inform planning and to facilitate sharing of information.

The ISP or IPP is reviewed regularly by school staff with the parent and, when appropriate, the student to update information; review the effectiveness of identified supports, strategies and services; and revise plans and/or identify new supports, strategies and/or services that will be provided.

Francophone Education

Education Act, Section 14

Alberta Education recognizes that English and French are the official languages of Canada. Canadian citizens belonging to the Francophone minority in Alberta have the right to have their children educated in Francophone schools according to section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and section 14 of the Education Act.

Section 23 right holders may exercise their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by enrolling their children in a Francophone school operated by a Francophone regional authority.

To support the education of children and students eligible for Francophone education, the Francophone school provides appropriate programming that reflects the pillars of Francophone education: language, identity, culture and community integration. Francophone regional authorities should consult Affirming Francophone Education: Foundations and Directions, A Framework for French First Language Education in Alberta and see Francophone education rights on Alberta.ca.

Francisation (Francophone)

Francisation programming is composed of program planning and instructional supports to eligible children and students registered in a Francophone education program offered by Francophone regional authorities, to assist children and students in developing the French language proficiency that will allow them to fully integrate socially, academically, culturally and at the community level as Francophones and in Canadian society in general.

Alberta Education’s Seuils repères pour la francisation – Préscolaire à 12e année (ECS to Grade 12 Francisation benchmarks) and other supports found in the digital resource La francisation: l’affaire de tout le monde have been developed in collaboration with Francophone regional authorities to guide Francisation programming and support early learning educators and teachers in assessing and reporting progress of Francophone students with Francisation needs.

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

A child/student who was born outside of Canada and has entered Canada as a refugee will typically require Francisation or English as a second language (ESL) supports. They may also require significant additional supports and services to address considerations such as limited or disrupted formal schooling, experiences and possible exposure to traumatic events while adjusting to an unfamiliar language and culture.

Refer to the Funding Manual for School Authorities for information on Francisation coding and funding.

For more information, see Francisation on Alberta.ca or contact the French Education (K–12) Branch. For contact information, see Appendix 1.

First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education

Alberta Education is committed to improving education outcomes and creating opportunities for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in Alberta. First Nations, Métis and Inuit students are supported by an education system that works to meet their programming and learning needs from Kindergarten to Grade 12.

Alberta Education supports First Nations, Métis and Inuit student success with a number of key strategies, including establishing collaborative partnerships with First Nations and Métis communities; supporting school authorities to build relationships and engage with First Nations, Métis and Inuit parents and families; developing culturally relevant learning resources and program supports; increasing the number of First Nations, Métis and Inuit professionals in the education workforce; and providing professional learning in First Nations, Métis and Inuit education to ensure that all students, teachers and school leaders learn about First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives and experiences, treaties and the history and legacy of residential schools. Outcome 2 from Alberta Education’s Business Plan 2020–23 provides a basis for the ministry to work collaboratively with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, governments, organizations and other partners to be an international leader in Indigenous education. Alberta Education supports First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in prospering through their learning journeys. The First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework also supports the implementation of student-focused strategies to improve outcomes for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. Information about First Nations, Métis and Inuit education, partnerships with First Nations and Métis communities and other initiatives and resources is available on Alberta.ca. For additional information, contact the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education Directorate. For contact information, see Appendix 1.

Alberta Education collaborates with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Elders, Knowledge Keepers, teachers and representatives from governments, organizations, communities and other partners to advance reconciliation. Alberta is committed to supporting the advancement of Education for Reconciliation through the inclusion of First Nations, Métis and Inuit perspectives and experiences, in historical and contemporary contexts, throughout Alberta’s Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K to 12) curriculum. As described in the Teaching Quality Standard, schools are required to use learning and teaching resources that ensure Alberta students and teachers are knowledgeable, respectful and have understanding of the rich diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit experiences and perspectives, cultures and contributions in historical and contemporary contexts, including understanding residential schools and their legacy, and treaties and agreements.

Alberta Education worked in partnership with First Nations, Métis and Inuit educators and Elders to develop the Aboriginal Studies 10–20–30 Program of Studies and published resources such as Walking Together: First Nations, Métis and Inuit Perspectives in Curriculum, Guiding Voices: A Curriculum Development Tool for Inclusion of First Nation, Métis and Inuit Perspectives Throughout Curriculum and Our Words, Our Ways to assist teachers and schools in deepening their understandings of First Nations, Métis and Inuit ways of knowing and perspectives and in improving education outcomes for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students. For more information, visit Education for Reconciliation.

Alberta Education works closely with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Elders, Knowledge Keepers, language holders and educators to enhance curriculum and support K to 12 Indigenous language and culture programs. School authorities intending to offer Indigenous language and culture programs may choose from Alberta Education programs of study, including K to 12 Blackfoot or Cree language and culture programs, or they may use locally developed courses such as Dene, Nakota/Nakoda or Tsuut’ina.

School authorities are required to include a voluntary First Nations, Métis and Inuit self-identity question on student registration forms. The required wording for this question can be accessed through the resource Student Self-Identification Information for School Authorities. This document also provides advice about how schools should submit this information to Alberta Education. The data obtained under this initiative allows the ministry to monitor and report on education outcomes, such as achievement levels for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, and to provide the Truth and Reconciliation Support Allocations, the Student Self-Identification Allocation and the School and Community Demographic Allocation components of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Grant to school authorities.

The First Nations, Métis and Inuit Grant is allocated to assist school authorities to provide system, program and instructional supports that improve education outcomes for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students and support the implementation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. For further information on funding for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, see the Funding Manual for School Authorities.

Adult Programming in the K to 12 Education System

Education Act, Section 23

Boards are required to concentrate their educational programming on students who are six years of age or older and younger than 19 years of age, as of September 1. Any and all adult programs offered by a board are subject to the following conditions:

  • No public post-secondary institutions offer similar programs within the board’s jurisdiction.
  • No courses, programs or vocational training for adults are offered to students residing outside the province of Alberta.
  • All adult programs are offered on a cost-recovery basis using full-cost accounting.
  • Any adult programs are delivered through separate organizational units that include the maintenance of separate records and accountability information.
  • All records and accountability information are available on demand for inspection by Alberta Education.
  • Any adult vocational training is licensed through the Private Vocational Training Act.
  • No board under the Education Act may use the term “college” in connection with its educational or other activities.
  • No funding provided to support ECS to Grade 12 programs is diverted to support any courses, programs or vocational training for adults.

The following definitions apply to the requirements for adult programming:

  • “Adult” means an individual who, on September 1 of the current school year, is 19 years of age or older.
  • “Adult program” means a set of courses offered to adults that may lead to a post-secondary credential such as, but not limited to, a diploma or certificate.
  • “Adult vocational training” means a program of instruction provided to adults in a vocation.
  • “Vocation” means a particular occupation, business, profession or calling.
  • “Jurisdiction” means the geographical area in the province where education services are delivered, and resident students are governed, by an operating school board.
  • “Separate organizational unit” means an entity for program delivery for which there is a separate program code through which all expenses and revenues for the program are tracked.

“Full-cost accounting” means a model that provides details on all the costs associated with producing a product or service.