Superintendent of Schools Katherine MacIver told trustees that the preparations continue for the destreaming of Grade 9 mathematics students beginning September 2021.
Destreaming will see almost all students continue to attend and learn together as they did in Grade 8, with a choice of academic streams shifted to Grade 10.
Right now most students in Grade 8 choose their Grade 9 courses to be taken in an academic or applied course of study which usually ends up being their choice for their entire high school career. It has long been criticized as discriminatory.
Research has consistently shown that students from low-income households and other marginalized groups are more likely to be steered away from academic courses — which are considered to have more critical thinking attached to them to prepare for university. Applied courses tend to be more practical, or college-level driven. The practice of destreaming can have ramifications for employment prospects later in life.
“This is an equity issue,” MacIver said. “It will be a real cultural shift. We have been streaming students into the academic, applied and essential streams for the last 21 years and we are working with parents, students and staff to make this very successful. We want students to have as many opportunities as possible to make good choices about their futures.”
MacIver said that pilot projects will also be running at individual high schools next fall featuring destreamed Grade 9 English and destreamed Grade 9 geography classes.
Haliburton trustee Gary Brohman wanted to know how large the destreamed classes would be, as currently there is no negotiated number for this type of programming.
“The ministry will set those numbers,” McIvor replied.
Trustee Stephen Binstock asked if the province’s goal is to destream all programming in Grade 9, and was told that all Grade 9 courses will eventually only be offered in a destreamed setting.