Previously, Ontario students were forced to pick an academic stream from the moment they started high school. They had to make a choice between taking Academic courses, which would allow them to take University credits later on, or Applied courses, which would send them on a path to college courses for their grade 11 and 12 years. However, the idea of making students choose an academic pathway as early as grade 9 has been heavily criticized.
A report, let by York University professor Carl James, found that racialized groups were being disproportionately streamed into the Applied level courses. As well, in a 2015 report by People for Education, it was 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.”
In an effort to make entering grade 9 easier and more equal among students, the Ministry of Education has decided to de-stream Grade 9 courses. By previously making students choose an academic pathway from the start, it would limit their options moving forward. Most students going into grade 9 haven’t even begun to think about post-secondary yet, and they shouldn’t have to. By de-streaming Grade 9 courses, it allows them more time to learn without having to make a decision right out of the gate.
How Do De-Streamed Pathways Work?
Now that grade 9 courses no longer force students to choose a pathway, it leaves their options open for Grade 10 and beyond. From the de-streamed grade 9 courses, students are able to move into either the Academic or Applied courses for Grade 10. This will give students an entire year of high school before they have to truly start thinking about their academic future. See an example of how de-streamed Math works below: