High school completion

The Alberta government continues to move on initiatives to help ensure success for high school students and teachers.


Alberta’s future prosperity rests on our ability to support a well-educated workforce that is responsive to change. Among the key priorities of the provincial education system is to ensure all of our students are successful – both in school, work and life.


High School programming in Alberta focuses on 3 outcomes:

  • engaged students
  • high levels of achievement
  • quality teaching

Ensuring a focus on student-centred learning happens when high schools put in place a number of key foundational principles.

Foundational principles

All foundational principles are interconnected. To meet the needs of their school communities high schools may need to focus on one or more.

Mastery learning

Mastery learning is an instructional strategy that results in a comprehensive grasp of measurable outcomes.

Key understandings include the following:

  • schools that support mastery learning set high expectations and create successful learning environments for their students
  • teachers design, pace and scaffold instruction for student success
  • continuous learning opportunities are available
  • teachers use regular formative assessment to monitor progress and provide ongoing feedback
  • teachers use both universal and targeted instructional strategies

Rigour and relevance

Rigor and relevance challenges students to apply what they have learned to solving complex real world problems. Students have opportunities to link disciplinary concepts and understandings to authentic situations when this is applied.

Key understandings include the following:

  • teaching materials and assessment strategies are aligned with the curriculum’s rigour and relevance
  • assignments focus on the application of concepts and skills in real-world contexts
  • requires students to apply their knowledge and learning to career aspirations
  • teachers support and encourage students to meet the high standards set for them
  • teachers design instruction to provide students with opportunities to strengthen and develop collaboration, evaluation, and higher order thinking skills
  • teachers ensure that instruction and assessment are aligned


Personalization differentiates instruction to meet the diverse needs and interests of all students.

Key understandings include the following:

  • teachers develop an in depth understanding of their students’ strengths, areas of growth, and interests
  • ongoing communication and planning with stakeholders results in increased student engagement
  • strategies focus on building relationships and rapport
  • options for diverse career learning paths including non-traditional learning paths
  • portfolios including e-folios, allow students to showcase their work
  • cross curricular teaching and learning is encouraged
  • schools design choices that facilitate relevant community learning opportunities

Flexible learning environments

Flexible learning environments support the idea that learning occurs in a variety of settings both within and beyond the walls of the classroom.

Key understandings include the following:

  • learning is student-centred
  • students are responsible and accountable for their learning
  • new technologies facilitate online learning and one-on-one time with a teacher
  • teachers are empowered to decide how best to structure time to facilitate learning for students
  • students have more control over the where, when, and what they learn
  • students are more engaged and by becoming more engaged, they transform their experiences into their education
  • shifts in designing spaces within the school and classroom that support regular opportunities for student to student collaboration
  • student agency, ownership, and choice can enhance success

Educator roles and professional development

Educator roles and professional development provides ongoing support for the role of the teacher as guide, coach, and career mentor.

Key understandings include the following:

  • school leaders and structures support and sustain teacher collaboration
  • teacher efficacy is supported through ongoing collaboration and shared decision making
  • school leaders and teachers collect and use data to inform and improve teaching practice
  • teachers work collectively to plan, instruct, and assess curricular outcomes

Meaningful relationships

Teachers and students develop relationships built on trust and healthy interaction.

Key understandings include the following:

  • students’ motivation to learn is impacted positively by having a caring and supportive relationship with teachers
  • schools often provide structures such as teacher advisors, homerooms, and learning cohorts to support positive student-teacher relationships
  • positive student-teacher relationships can have a significant effect on the peer acceptance of students
  • students see teachers as mentors
  • students are supported in achieving excellence and high standards
  • positive student-teacher relationships promote a sense of belonging and encourage students to participate cooperatively

Home and community involvement

Positive home partnerships build learning opportunity outside the classroom and allow stakeholders to discuss issues and solutions.

Key understandings include the following:

  • school wide strategies are in place to engage the home and community
  • parents are actively involved in the learning and understand its intent, importance, and value
  • students have opportunities to learn in the community
  • business, industry and other community stakeholders are invited to be partners in education happening at school


Assessing student learning involves four components including setting clear expectations for all learners, using formative assessments to provide students with timely feedback to move learning forward, using summative assessments to analyze performance in relation to learning outcomes, and reporting assessment of learning.

Key understandings include the following:

  • clear expectations about high standards foster a culture of continuous improvement
  • a variety of assessments are used including demonstrations of learning, applied projects, performance assessments, and portfolios
  • formative assessment is integral to the learning process and is used to guide teachers in adjusting instruction, promoting learning, and assessing student mastery
  • formative feedback promotes reflection and increases student engagement and ownership in the learning process
  • summative assessments provide evidence for teachers to analyze performance in relation to learner outcomes
  • students are given chances to replace earlier attempts and have opportunities to make up missed assignments
  • schools and school authorities develop fair, accurate, and flexible grading policies and practices
  • teachers exercise their professional judgment when determining final course marks
  • professional learning assists teachers in understanding how to manage and use the data they gather

Welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment

Fostering diversity as well as respect supports an inclusive school culture where students feel cared for and connected to the community. It contributes to and sustains a healthy learning environment.

Key understandings include the following:

  • student voice is valued, listened to, and acted upon
  • high expectations for all students
  • students demonstrate respectful speech and actions
  • students and staff are mindful of others
  • shared responsibility is expected
  • schools provide opportunities for greater student, parental, and community involvement
  • students are encouraged to contribute to a positive school culture
  • diversity is celebrated

Successful high schools

Schools have implemented strategies and foundational practices aimed at transforming the high school experience for students and teachers through changes to one or more of these areas.

School structure

Organization that allows learning to occur under a variety of circumstances and conditions including flexible schedules, year-round calendars, modified timetables and varied instructional settings.

School culture

Student voice, student engagement, welcoming, caring and respectful learning environments that respect the shared values and beliefs of all stakeholders.

School pedagogy

Includes current and comprehensive planning, instruction and assessment practices that meet the needs of all learners.

School leadership

Has a key role in leading instructional learning, informing school policies and fostering collaboration and effective relationships with community partners.

HSC Strategic Framework

To assist Alberta school authorities in successfully increasing their high school completion rates, Alberta Education designed the High School Completion (HSC) Strategic Framework around five areas for action:

Tracking progress

Monitoring student, school, and school authority data is at the core of the early identification of trends and factors that may contribute to a student not completing high school.

Student engagement

Students are more engaged when they have opportunities for input into their learning and the life of the school.

Successful transitions

Transition planning is multi-faceted and is required for events that result in changes to relationships, routines, and expectations or roles.


Collaborative partnerships are an essential component in supporting successful high school completion.

Positive connections

Must be created and maintained between the school staff, student and their family for students to experience success.

Alberta’s High School Completion Strategic Framework addresses the challenges students face in finishing high school and helps ensure all students are given the opportunity to succeed.



Connect with Alberta Education for more information about high school programming:

Phone: 780-427-6272
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)