Worthwhile Canadian initiative

Alberta has the best schools in Canada and Alberta students rank among the best in the world, writes The Economist.

The curriculum has been revised, stressing core subjects (English, science, mathematics), school facilities and the training of teachers have been improved, clear achievement goals have been set and a rigorous province-wide testing programme for grades three (aged 7-8), six (10-11), nine (13-14) and twelve (16-17) has been established to ensure they are met.

. . . This is especially true in the province’s capital of Edmonton, which is noted for its innovative system stressing choice, accountability and competition. Funding there is based on the number of students in a school. Each school controls its own budget, spending money on its own educational priorities (such as improving aboriginal-student results), while following the provincial curriculum. Students are free to (and 57% do) attend any school in the city, not just in their own neighbourhood. They can seek out schools specialising in the arts, sports, leadership skills, girls-only education, aboriginal culture, Mandarin, and many other alternative programmes—or simply choose the schools with the best academic results. Students in every grade are tested annually and their scores published.

The rich send their children to public schools.

Via Education Gadfly, which is a fan of Edmonton’s “weighted” funding.

About Joanne


  1. According to the chart in the Economist, Hong Kong may know how to teach math and science but they fall down when it comes to teaching reading. I wonder how that works?

  2. English is an offical language but not the native language for most students.

  3. Yeah, but wouldn’t reading proficiency be measured in the predominant, native language?

  4. From wikipedia, “In Hong Kong where both English and Chinese are official, both languages are taught in school and are mandatory subjects. Either English or Chinese is used as the medium of instruction for other subjects.” So the study may take the easy way out and tests in English. If the study tests in Chinese, the situation is too complicated to explain in a short paragraph. The simple answer is that language instruction in Hong Kong has to focused on so many different things that it is difficult for the students to be good at reading in any single language.

    Another interesting point is that in Hong Kong, math and science subjects are not taught in a single year, but are multi-year subjects. It is closer to the idea of integrated math without the constructivist ideology. I find that to be more logical. I never understand why in the U.S. you have to take chemistry before you take physics, and you have to take biology before you take chemistry, and then the biology teacher has to spend the first month teaching the biology students chemistry because it is needed in biology. Is this why Hong Kong students are better instructed in math and science?