Canada is a large country consisting of ten provinces and three territories, each of which has its own system of education for elementary, secondary and post-secondary levels. While students can easily transfer between provinces, there is no national Education Ministry; rather, each province’s educational system reflects the characteristics of its region while also exposing students to similarities with the rest of Canada and the world.
In Alberta, all schools that are accredited by Alberta Education follow a common and rigorous curriculum for grades 1 to 12. The curriculum is evaluated and updated regularly, and it specifies the expected outcomes for each subject area. Students in grades 3, 6, and 9 take achievement tests to assess their progress against grade-level standards, and Grade 12 students write examinations in core subjects to qualify for an Alberta High School Diploma. This diploma is recognized internationally and enables students to attend universities around North America and the world.
Academically, Canada ranks high on international student achievement tests in reading, math, and science, and Alberta students perform significantly better than the Canadian average. However, standardized testing does not give a complete picture of the education system. Schools are increasingly implementing strategies to develop students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills to prepare them for life after high school.
In response to the demands of the 21st century, student-centered learning is becoming a popular educational approach around the world. This approach involves training students to be problem solvers by providing them with situations that require cross-curricular skills. Alberta Education promotes Inquiry-Based Learning (IBL) as a way to achieve this. IBL is a process where students are involved in their own learning, ask questions, investigate, and build new understandings, meanings and knowledge. It is an educational approach that involves administrators, teachers, students, and parents in a culture of inquiry, which is a part of all Alberta Education curricula.