Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday July 8, 2020
Ontario plans to stop Grade 9 students from streaming into applied or academic tracks
The Ontario government plans to stop its Grade 9 “applied” and “academic” track streaming, a spokesperson for the ministry of education confirmed Monday.
High school students in Ontario typically have to choose between more practical, hands-on applied courses or more theoretical academic courses in core subjects.
“Students, families and staff deserve an education system that is inclusive, accountable, and transparent, and one that by design, is set up to fully and equally empower all children to achieve their potential,” Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement on Monday afternoon.
“This government will move quickly and decisively to combat systemic racism so that every child – irrespective of colour of skin, heritage, faith or ability – can have a fighting chance at success.”
The streaming process was developed in the late 1990s as a way to cater to students with different learning styles, but experts say that streaming has disproportionately impacted racialized and low-income students, affecting graduation rates and test scores.
Advocacy group People for Education has long been calling for an end to the streaming process. They argue that it ends up dividing students rather than providing them with more options.
“There as a high disproportionate amount of kids in the applied stream who were Black, who were Indigenous, who came from low-income families,” Annie Kidder from People for Education said. “All of the research, every single year when it was looked at on who goes to applied found a disproportionate portion of kids from certain backgrounds.”
Kidder said that while eliminating the practice is the right thing to do, she wants to know more about how students with different learning styles will be supported during the transition as well as teachers.
“You can’t just flip a switch,” she said. “You have to be willing to do the other part of the work.”
Five years ago People for Education called on the Liberal government to merge the two levels of Grade 9 math classes after a survey found that students in the applied version of the course were less successful on EQAO tests, less likely to graduate and less likely to go on to post-secondary education. (CTV)