Academic Upgrading

Essential Skills Upgrading – Day Program

Improve Basic Skills – Reading, Writing, Math!
Learn Skills that will help you become employed!


We have the experience to help you take the steps to upgrade you reading, writing, math and computer skills. This program is designed to assist those who need academic upgrading to develop the basic competencies needed to pursue high school courses or to enrol in further employment-related training. For students who have completed ESL, but are not yet able to secure employment due to low levels of academic skill development, these courses could be right for you. If you need further education to reach of level of knowledge that will open new career doors for you, this may be the pathway.

We offer:

  1. Essential Skills English courses – Reading and Writer’s Workshop
  2. Essential Skills Math – Grades 1 – 9
  3. Employment Preparation courses – Work Strategies & Work Experience
  4. Computer Courses

Full-time Day and Part-Time Day available. You may qualify for government funding to take these courses.

Program Description

  • Full time Day classes – 4.5 hours per week, Monday to Friday – total of 22.5 hrs. per week
  • Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • Small classes with individualized programs
  • Traditional classroom and computer supported learning
  • Tutoring support available – individual, group, and in-class
  • Career advising for short-term and long-term planning
  • Work Experience may be part of this program if the intent is to move directly to employment

Admission Requirements

  • Take a Columbia College Assessment in Reading, Writing, and Mathematics for placement purposes
  • Meet all other Admission requirements(link)

Course List and Descriptions

Essential Skills Reading Comprehension (Gr. 1-6)
Essential Skills Writer’s Workshop (Gr. 1-6)

These two courses at each grade level gradually develop your reading comprehension and writing skills. You will be engaged in reading fiction and non-fiction and through Writer’s Workshop develop the kind of skills that are used in the workplace. You will learn how to respond in writing to a variety of requests and situations.

Reading Comprehension (Grade 7-9) (Adult Basic Education)
Writer’s Workshop (Grade. 7-9) (Adult Basic Education)

These two courses at each grade level are composed of the following: Literature Study – three units: Short Fiction/Non-Fiction, Novel Study, and Reading Comprehension. Writer’s Workshop develops the skills you need to be an effective writer.

English 9 Literature and Reading Comprehension is designed to provide you with the oral and written communication skills, as well as, the composition and writing skills required for employment, to enter a career training program, or to continue in English at the Grade 10 to Grade 12 level.

Mathematics (Numeracy)
The Mathematics courses are derived from The Alberta Program of Studies for K-12 Mathematics: Western Canadian Protocol for Collaboration in Basic Education, 2009.

Essential Skills Mathematics Grades 1 and 2 will provide adults with minimal mathematical knowledge the opportunity to gain the skills to develop practical number sense. Basic math skills will be reviewed and more advanced computations will be introduced. Metric units of measure will be used to assist students with making sense of the world around them. Students will develop strategies to solve a wide variety of word problems and will use patterns and relationships to analyze mathematical situations.

Mathematics Grades 3 and 4 will cover a broad range of topics including whole number concepts, whole number operations, decimals and common fractions, patterns, measurement, 3-D objects and 2-D shapes, transformations and data analysis. Students will develop strategies to sole a wide range of word problems and will use patterns and relationships to analyze mathematical situations.

Mathematics Grades 5 and 6 will continue to develop proficiency with more advanced operations on whole numbers, decimals, fractions, estimation skills, measurement, probability, and problem solving skills. Students will develop confidence measuring units of time, temperature and Canadian money.

Mathematics Grade 7 covers a broad range of topics in four strands: Number, Patterns and Relations, Shape and Space, and Statistics and Probability.

Mathematics Grade 8 continues to work on the four strands: Number, Patterns and Relations, Shape and Space, and Statistics and Probability. Students learn to represent algebraic expressions in multiple ways, use direct and indirect measurement to solve problems and use patterns to describe the world and to solve problems.

Mathematics Grade 9 focuses on the application of previously acquired computation and algebra skills and expands upon topics covered in the grade 7 and 8 math curriculums. Fundamental to the program is problem solving which integrates language skills with reasoning and mathematical concepts to understand everyday events.

Start Dates (Day Program)

January 4, 2016
May 2, 2016
September 6, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for Essential Skills Upgrading?
Contact Columbia College at 403-235-9300 or drop in to see a Columbia College advisor. No appointment needed.

When can I start school?
There are 3 main semester intakes for daytime students: January, May, and September. Students may also start at the beginning of most months if this is the best education plan for the student.

What are class times?
Students enrolled in full-time studies will go to classes for 4.5 hours per day from Monday to Friday. A typical schedule would be 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

How many people are in a class?
On average, class sizes range from 15 – 20 students in each class.

How long with the application process take?
The application process, including the assessment, career planning appointment, and advisor appointments, usually takes approximately 2 weeks. Funding approval can take up to 8 weeks.

How do I pay for school?
Most students attending classes will apply for and receive grant funding from the Government of Alberta. Your Admission Advisor will assist you in applying for funding.

Is there a student orientation?
Yes, it is required that all students attend an orientation session. It is held before you enter school. Here you learn everything you need to know about Columbia College, your schedule, school policies etc. This is our opportunity to welcome you officially to our school!