Monday, September 24, 2012

grad requirements dialogue

I have been invited to participate in a discussion about changes to high school graduation requirements in BC. Maybe some of you who arrive here are doing this, too? While I don't pretend to represent anyone but my own quirky self, I am open to carrying other people's ideas and suggestions with me into the Oct. 11 meeting. Feel free to email me (gthielmann at, tweet, or leave a comment below if you'd like to add input. I'll also check to see if the Ministry of Education is taking written submissions on this topic beyond the BCEd Plan form at (yes, they are... see comment from "spacely" below).  Ministry presentation on grad requirements dialogue:

Here's the session intro and discussion questions:

"You are invited to join (students, parents, educators, employers, post secondary partners, civic leaders and others) in a conversation that will help inform the development of future graduation requirements.

The Ministry of Education is seeking input from around the Province to develop recommendations for new graduation requirements. This session is one of many being held this Fall.

There will be facilitated group discussions focused on getting feedback to five key questions: 

Question #1:
What do you think are the core or essential things all students should know, understand and be able to do by the time they leave secondary school?

Question #2:
Beyond the core, how could pathways for choice or exploration be provided?

Question #3:
Research is underway with a focus on the following five cross-curricular competencies:
a) Communication

b) Critical Thinking
c) Creative Thinking and Innovation
d) Personal Responsibility and Well Being
e)  Social Responsibility

How do you think students could demonstrate these competencies?

Question #4:
How could student learning be communicated to:
a) Students 
b) Parents/Guardians 
c) Post secondary Institutions/Employers

Question #5:
How would you design an awards program to recognize student success in a personalized learning environment?

We look forward to having you join this dialogue and helping to inform the development of future graduation requirements."


Anonymous said...

My work with the Ministry this summer was looking at paring down the Social Studies curriculum, with those cross-curricular competencies in mind. We were also looking at hisorical and geographical thinking. What is it that we are trying to assess specifically and how are we going to assess it? If we don't crack that, nothing will change.

Students can now graduate with fewer credits than they needed in the past. They are less educated, not better. I think we should push for a mandatory Social Studies credit in Grade 12. We need to ensure a liberal arts education.

In terms of moving away from heavy content into more skills and critical thinking, I think we enter a minefield. I wonder, why not a survey course, like History 12, and then an applications course that follows immediately? Or turn it into a full year course so that there is time to really engage the material? Students need to go deep on something, so they can understand the complexities. They also need to see the span of history, so they can recognize the patterns, so they can recognize them when ithey start to happen around them and to them.

We may move too far in one direction, with good intentions, and then realize students know very little about the world around them. Balance. Balance. Balance.

Finally, I believe that there should be a mandatory BC First Nations Studies 12 course in the senior grades. This is a shared history, and it is impossible to understand modern Canada without it. The population remains ignorant to the ongoing impacts of colonialism. It is not yet time to assume knowledge, let alone understanding, of the history of colonization. This information is not optional.

On the broader question of how students show what they have learned - bring back the portfolio. Make it real, not a hoop to jump through. Make it heavy on student self-assessment and reflection.

Question number 5 is mind-boggling. What is this about? We should show-case. Down with awards, I say!

I may be back with more, or I may blog.... Thanks, Glen.

Thielmann said...

Thanks for your words, thoughtful and relevant as always. Minefield is right! Without a subject (content, curriculum) to centre the inquiry, what use is critical thinking? They have to go together. I think 4C and 5 are about the wake left by disappearing provincial exams. How do we do scholarships and post-sec entrance criteria? How do we create something fair on the provincial level if every student is on a personalized path? The kid that overcomes hurdles to learn how to achieve a basic reading level vs the kid that excels from day one are both worthy of praise, but when they both get the same "marks" on the 5 competencies, who gets the scholarship and ticket to university? I know we're educating for more than the accolades, but I think assessing performance standards with standardized tools still has a role, right alongside the portfolio and reflection. Like you say... balance.

spacely said...

The current list of planned grad consultations is at

Comments from individuals should be directed to the lead identified for each of the 6 regions. Provincial groups (such as PSAs) can make submissions to the ministry. Session materials (powerpoint and toolkit) have been provided online at