Changes are coming to N.B. anglophone high schools. But how will they work?

اخبار العرب-كندا 24: الأربعاء 22 مارس 2023 09:42 مساءً

High school students in New Brunswick will start to pick their classes in the coming months and may notice a wider course selection. (Chinnapong/Shutterstock - image credit)

High school students in New Brunswick will start to pick their classes in the coming months and may notice a wider course selection. (Chinnapong/Shutterstock - image credit)

Students in New Brunswick's anglophone high schools will see a bigger selection of courses when they pick their classes for the fall term.

The Department of Education is changing the way courses are counted and improving what's available for selection, and adding the option for some students to graduate early.

Andrew Culberson is a learning specialist with the Department of Education and the provincial lead for high school changes.

He said students needed something to get them more interested in what they're learning.

According to student surveys from 2013-2021, he said 59 per cent of students, on average, are not motivated or interested, but 70 per cent want to do well.

Submitted by Andrew Culberson

Submitted by Andrew Culberson

"That's fairly comparative to other averages throughout the country. But that's a huge concern," said Culberson.

He said changes have been discussed since 2012, and many small adjustments have been made since then.

Changing to credit hours

One of the biggest changes is something schools have been asking for for a long time, he said.

A one-semester course is worth one credit right now, but starting in September it will be counted as four credit hours, said Culberson.

Students will need to accumulate at least 100 credit hours from Grades 10-12 in order to graduate. But there will be more options for how to earn those credit hours.

Grade 9 students will still do their prescribed courses, but in Grades 10-12 they will have core clusters that have multiple options to fulfil the required credit hours.

The five clusters each have a specific credit hour requirement that students must complete before graduation.

The clusters are:

  • Language arts and languages - 24 credit hours.

  • Humanities - eight credit hours.

  • Mathematics - 12 credit hours.

  • Science - 8 credit hours.

  • Personalized well-being - 20 credit hours.

Language arts and languages, humanities and mathematics have required courses within the clusters, but the rest of the credit hours will have options to choose from.

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For example, prior to the changes, English 10 and English 11 were full-year courses. But now, students will take their compulsory classes for 16 credit hours and the rest of the 24 credit hours can be filled by options such as Canadian Literature, Spanish or French as an Additional Language.

Culberson said this allows students to take classes they are passionate about.

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock

The same goes for the other clusters. All students will take Civics 10, but for the rest of their humanities credits, there are more choices such as Indigenous Studies, Modern History and World Issues.

The personalized well-being cluster, which requires a total of 20 credit hours, is broken down into three categories, each requiring students to take one four-credit hour course:

  • Creative arts, including courses such as Dramatic Arts, Graphic Art and Design and Media Studies.

  • Wellness and physical education, including courses such as Health Care, Outdoor Education and Child Studies.

  • Career connected, which includes courses such as Entrepreneurship and Marketing.

The remaining eight credits can be earned in any of those three categories.

For the career category, there are also opportunities for students to start earning hours toward a pre-apprenticeship or work in a skilled trade, such as Electrical Wiring or Culinary Technology.

Culberson said all of the choices in the clusters are considered "approved courses," but schools will be able to develop their own timetables and schedules to match their current teachers' expertise and to meet student needs.

If schools don't have the capacity to offer a large variety of options for each cluster, students can also access a virtual classroom through the New Brunswick Virtual Learning Centre, said Culberson, which has more than 40 high school courses that would be taught by an online teacher.

"It's creating the stage for schools to be able to support students on really finding their purpose and developing their skill sets and knowledge to prepare them for whatever's next," said Culberson.

Early graduation

There will also be an opportunity for students to graduate early.  If a student reaches the 100-credit hour minimum and they have everything they need for post-secondary, they might be able to graduate early.

Culberson said the francophone school system has done some of these things, like early graduation, for years now.

"We're almost playing catch-up right now to the francophone sector," he said.

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