Newspaper article The Canadian Press

UCP Leader, Alberta Teachers Clash on Proposed Education Reforms

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

UCP Leader, Alberta Teachers Clash on Proposed Education Reforms

Article excerpt

UCP leader, teachers clash on proposed reforms

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EDMONTON - United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney is clashing with Alberta's teachers over his party's education election promises that include a renewed emphasis on standardized testing and changes to protections for gay students.

"The priorities in this platform are misplaced and misguided," Alberta Teachers' Association president Greg Jeffery told a news conference Tuesday.

"Instead of addressing the real issues of growing class size and a lack of adequate supports for students with special needs, the United Conservative Party election platform proposes new, high-stakes testing for six-, seven- and eight-year-old children."

Kenney's plan focuses on a return to teaching the basics -- especially math, reading and writing -- along with changes to testing.

He said Monday that a UCP government after the April 16 election would return to diploma exams being worth half a student's final grade, up from the current 30 per cent.

He said the UCP would bring back Grade 3 provincial achievement tests as well as math and literacy exams in Grades 1, 2, and 3, so that teachers could gauge if a student was struggling.

Jeffery said it's best to judge students on all their work rather than place unfair weight on a test that is essentially a "snapshot in time."

Kenney responded that teachers are traditionally against the tests, but parents want to know where their kids stand.

"It holds schools and teachers to account. It lets us know where there are weak points (and) it informs intervention with kids who are struggling," he said Tuesday. …

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