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Vol. 2, no. 1, September 1997

M I S E  À  J O U R

Vol. 2, No 1, Septembre 1997
In February 1995, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) adopted the Pan-Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in School Curriculum. Through this protocol, the ministers of education are committed to the improvement of the quality of education in their provinces and territories and believe that inter-jurisdictional cooperation can help attain that objective.

With this common understanding, the ministers agreed to facilitate curriculum collaboration among jurisdictions, recognizing that shared resources, both human and financial, can increase the quality and efficiency of the process for developing educational activities. The Pan-Canadian Science Project (PCSP) is the first joint development project undertaken as part of the protocol. This is one of CMEC's most important projects, reflecting the spirit and intent of collaboration of the protocol. The objective of the PCSP is to produce a framework of general and specific science learning outcomes for kindergarten through to grade 12. The use of the framework by curriculum developers in participating jurisdictions will help to ensure that our students are prepared for the challenges, both personal and professional, of the next millennium.

The PCSP is being developed using the lead jurisdiction model: a francophone lead jurisdiction, Manitoba (francophone), and an anglophone lead jurisdiction, British Columbia, are jointly responsible for ensuring the development of the framework. Two types of organizational structures have been used:

  • A steering committee, composed of assistant deputy ministers with curriculum responsibility from the following jurisdictions: British Columbia (anglophone lead), Manitoba (francophone lead), Newfoundland, New Brunswick (francophone), Manitoba (anglophone), and Ontario. Its mandate is to ensure the overall management of the project and to direct the project team.
  • A project team, comprising science consultants with a high level of expertise in the area of curriculum development in science, supports the lead jurisdictions and is directed by the steering committee -- all participating jurisdictions are represented on the project team.
A group of anglophone teachers from British Columbia and francophone teachers from Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick, together with the project team, developed the learning outcomes in the framework. All the participating teachers have expertise in the development of science curriculum and are considered leaders in their teaching careers.

The processes and procedures of the PCSP are intended to maximize jurisdictional resources, teacher expertise, and stakeholder involvement. Developing the framework in a cost-effective manner has required the use of a number of current technologies including the Internet and video-conferencing. The development process has involved tapping into the expertise of some of the best educators from the participating jurisdictions to guide the development and review the drafts of the framework. While curriculum developers make up the main audience for this framework, feedback from all educational stakeholders is essential for the success of this project. Using established consultation mechanisms within each participating jurisdiction, interested stakeholders have been asked for feedback at three key times during the project -- the spring and fall of 1996, and the spring of 1997.

How the project was developed: As a first step, all participating jurisdictions were invited to submit a vision statement for science education, developed either individually or regionally. Based on these statements, the project team then framed a pan-Canadian vision statement, which has guided the development of the framework. In the spring of 1996, educational partners in all participating jurisdictions were invited to review the introduction portion of the framework. The framework was then developed, using as a basis the vision, the introductory sections of the document, a draft curriculum comparability study of science curriculum from participating jurisdictions, and a variety of research articles and international science education reform documents.

In late spring 1996, teachers and project team members developed a first draft of the general and specific science learning outcomes. The outcomes were further refined over the summer. In the fall of 1996, a draft document was provided to participating jurisdictions for review within their jurisdictions. This review process required participating jurisdictions to distribute the draft document to their stakeholders for comment. While many different mechanisms were used to collect feedback, the extensive review process included consultations with elementary and secondary school teachers and administrators, postsecondary institutions, business and labour organizations, parent groups, science professionals' organizations, science interest groups, and representatives from other ministries. Each participating jurisdiction then prepared a report for the lead jurisdictions. Jurisdictional comments were summarized in a report, to guide the work of the project team as it edited the document.

Because of the nature of the changes made in the draft document after the first consultation, it was felt that a second review period, in spring 1997, was necessary to give jurisdictional stakeholders one more opportunity to provide comments. The comments received have informed further revisions to the framework. Now in its final editing stage, the framework is expected to be released in October 1997.

The success of the Pan-Canadian Science Project will benefit many educational stakeholders including students, ministries and departments of education across the country, and educational learning resource developers. The framework represents a similar understanding across participating jurisdictions of what students should know and be able to do at different stages in their learning. Students will have greater opportunities to develop the scientific knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to join an increasingly scientific and technological workplace. This will facilitate the transfer of students as they move between science programs in different jurisdictions. Curriculum developers in the participating jurisdictions will have access to a strong common basis to develop the science curriculum for their respective jurisdictions. Students will also have access to new high quality learning resources developed to reflect the new directions in the Common framework of science learning outcomes, K to 12. Finally, the development of learning resources will be facilitated regionally and perhaps even nationally, ensuring some measure of consistency in the resources used.

For more information, visit our Web site at http://www.cmec.ca/ or contact Ms. Monique Bélanger, Coordinator, Curriculum and Reporting (tel: (416) 964-2551, ext. 233;

e-mail: mbelanger@cmec.ca).
Revision : 1997 09 18