Two years after the release of the recommendations of Albertaâ€™s Commission on Learning, much work remains to be done to improve teaching and learning conditions in the provinceâ€™s schools, says Alberta Teachersâ€™ Association (ATA) president Frank Bruseker.
â€œWhen Albertaâ€™s teachers first called for the creation of a commission to investigate classroom conditions, we were confident that the process would not only highlight critical deficiencies but also map out practical solutions,â€ said Bruseker. â€œThe learning commission got many things right and now we are waiting for concrete action.â€
Bruseker acknowledged that while improvements have been made in some areas, in others, education in Alberta continues to fall short. For example, while there have been reductions in class sizes in the elementary grades, class sizes continue to be a serious issue at the junior and senior high school level. â€œThe government could solve this problem at relatively little cost by setting common-sense caps on actual class sizes and holding school boards accountable if these maximums are exceeded,â€ observed Bruseker.
On the issue of standardized testing, Bruseker criticized the departmentâ€™s attempt to pass off its computer adaptive assessment initiative as fulfilling the learning commissionâ€™s recommendation that the government ensure that teachers have access to classroom assessment materials and practices. â€œThe commission called for the government to develop and promote authentic, classroom-based performance assessment that reflected a broad range of learning processes and outcomes. Instead the government is planning to waste millions of dollars to have computers spit more multiple choice tests at students,â€ said Bruseker.
Bruseker also pointed to the need to ensure that teacher librarians, guidance counsellors and teaching assistants are available to help students achieve their full potential as learners. â€œThe learning commission was quite clear that meeting the unique individual needs of students should be the first priority of our provinceâ€™s schools,â€ said Bruseker.
â€œAlbertaâ€™s Commission on Learning created high expectations in the minds of the public and teachers,â€ concluded Bruseker, â€œWhile some progress has been made, Albertans continue to expect more for students and their schools.â€