Ontario to end academic streaming for Grade 9 students starting next school year

·2 min read
Streaming — in which students must choose to pursue either an 'academic' or 'applied' track when they begin high school — has been shown to disproportionately affect Black and low-income students when it comes to graduation rates. (Carlos Caetano/Shutterstock - image credit)
Streaming — in which students must choose to pursue either an 'academic' or 'applied' track when they begin high school — has been shown to disproportionately affect Black and low-income students when it comes to graduation rates. (Carlos Caetano/Shutterstock - image credit)

Ontario has announced it will end the practice of academic streaming for remaining Grade 9 courses beginning next fall.

The province previously announced it would cease streaming students into separate applied and academic paths for Grade 9 math earlier this summer.

Streaming — in which students must choose to pursue either an "academic" or "applied" track when they begin high school — has been shown to disproportionately affect Black and low-income students when it comes to graduation rates and the chance of going to a post-secondary institution. Many parents and advocates have criticized the practice as discriminatory.

In a new memo to school board directors, the province says that beginning September 2022, all Grade 9 subjects will be offered in one stream, including science, English, geography and French as a second language.

Streaming will remain in place for Grade 10, however — the memo indicates "additional learning expectations" will be coming to help support students transitioning from the destreamed Grade 9 math curriculum into an applied or academic path.

"Our government has continuously taken action to remove barriers for all students, including racialized children in Ontario," said Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

"We will continue to take action to lift up all students, with an ambitious plan to support better pathways to the skilled trades, post-secondary, and good-paying jobs."

Ontario is one of the few places in Canada that has continued to separate students into the hands-on applied stream and the post-secondary-track academic stream as they start high school.

A 2017 report led by York University professor Carl James found that Black teens in the Greater Toronto Area were being streamed into applied course tracks at significantly higher rates than other students.

Meanwhile, a 2015 report from the group People for Education found that students taking applied courses in Grade 9 were much less likely to go to university and that students from low-income groups were more likely to enrol in applied courses.

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