The Nova Scotia curricula emphasizes key concepts and encourages students to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of subject matter.

It also reflects the core competencies that students need to succeed now and in the future.

Each curriculum document consists of a series of curriculum outcomes statements describing the competencies students are expected to demonstrate as a result of their cumulative learning experiences in the primary – graduation continuum. Teachers and administrators refer to the curriculum documents to design learning environments and experiences that reflect the principles of learning and are responsive to the diverse needs and interests of the students.

Curriculum outcomes are statements of what a learner knows, is able to do, and value upon the completion of the learning process. Outcomes are written as broad, high level statements that are the focus of learning; they should not be learning tasks that can be completed in a single lesson. Outcomes are the key components that identify the proficiencies of learning in a particular discipline.

Indicators serve as the evidence that teachers look for to determine the extent to which desired learning results have been achieved. While there are many ways for learners to approach the evidence of learning to support instruction and assessment, these guide instruction by identifying what learners should know and be able to show and do in relation to the outcome. The indicators for an outcome should not be interpreted as a checklist or prioritized list of instructional activities.

In summary, the indicators:

  • provide the intent (depth and breadth) of the outcome;
  • define the level and types of knowledge and skills/processes intended by the outcome
  • are achieved through a variety of teaching strategies; found in curricula guides and other approved resources

Competency-based education requires a curriculum that is authentic, culturally and linguistically responsive, engaging, rigorous and relevant.

To embrace change and adapt to improve learning, Nova Scotia, in collaboration with Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training (CAMET), has developed clear statements of what learners are expected to know, be able to do, and reflect on by the time they graduate from high school. These competencies describe expectations, not only in terms of individual curricular areas but in terms of attitudes, skills, and knowledge developed throughout the curriculum. Competencies confirm that learners need to make the connections and develop abilities across subject areas if they are to be ready to meet the shifting and ongoing demands of life, work, and learning today, and in the future.

A rigorous curriculum encourages mastery not only of academic subjects but also of the higher-order cognitive skills. A rigorous program aligns curriculum, instruction, and assessment with high standards and high expectations. It focuses on the integration of competencies. It is coherent and sequential, and encourages students to tackle challenging problems. In rigorous programs, student progress and performance is assessed in multiple ways.
 
A culturally and linguistically responsive curriculum makes the connection between the students' social, cultural, family and linguistic background and what they learns in class. The curriculum validates, affirms and nourishes the students' own cultural identity and creates the conditions through which their learning is fostered.
 
The world beyond the classroom cannot be understood from the perspective of just one curriculum subject. The world is cross-curricular, requiring knowledge and skills across a variety of subjects. Cross-curricular programming recognizes this reality and seeks to build deep, lasting, and transferable understandings of the world around us. Cross-curricular programming makes curricula more engaging, memorable, and meaningful by integrating subjects and establishing relevance to real-world concerns. Curricula are carefully and strategically integrated so that what students learn is meaningful and applicable to real-world situations. Students build upon disciplinary knowledge and skills in the process of mastering cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills.