Students wishing to move between streams once they have selected Applied level courses in Grade 9 face a number of barriers. De-streaming Grade 9, starting with mathematics in September 2021, and all Grade 9 subjects in 2022, keeps course options open and supports all students to prepare for Grade 11 and 12 courses that will allow them to pursue the post-secondary pathway of their choice.
In the WRDSB, we welcome de-streaming as an opportunity to welcome students into an innovative, vibrant, joyous learning environment, where all students experience a solid foundation and an equitable opportunity for their future studies. We strive for all learners to see themselves for what we know them to be; curious, capable and competent.
Background and research
- The Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development (OECD) (2012) recommends that school systems delay streaming to upper secondary education to ensure that options are kept open for students until they have enough experience to make decisions about their futures.
- Research has shown that all students benefit from learning in groups of students of varied abilities and interests in which teachers have high and appropriate expectations for all students and a clear understanding that all students can be successful (OECD, 2012).
- Ontario students, parents and caregivers have indicated that they consider course type selection in Grade 8 to be too early, and that Applied courses do not prepare them for success (People for Education, 2015).
- Ontario was the only province in Canada that continued to stream students in Grade 9. The original intent for Applied courses was to provide a different approach to learning. Over time, the perception grew that these courses were less academically rigorous.
- Research shows students from racialized communities, low-income households, and other marginalized groups are more often encouraged to take Applied level courses which then affects everything from graduation rates to employment opportunities later in life. (Ontario Ministry of Education 2017).
De-streaming Grade 9 in the WRDSB
As of September 2022, Grade 9 students are no longer required to choose between Applied or Academic level courses. This change is the result of strong evidence across Waterloo Region and Ontario that supports eliminating the pressure for Grade 8 students and families to choose between Applied and Academic courses in favour of de-streaming. The goal of de-streaming is to provide more equitable graduation and achievement outcomes, and increased access to all Grade 11 course options, for all students.
By September 2023, curriculum for three Grade 9 courses will be provided by the Ministry of Education:
All other Grade 9 courses are offered at only one level, either Open (O in the course code) or Academic (D in the course code).
De-streaming Grade 10 in the WRDSB
Evidence which showed Applied level programs severely affected students’ ability to choose the post secondary destination of their choice, and reduced graduation rates were evident for both Grade 9 and 10.
As a result, the WRDSB has extended de-streaming into Grade 10 to ensure students have all the rich opportunities for learning they deserve and to which they are entitled. By September 2024, most students will take only Academic courses in their Grade 10 year. Our goal is to support all students in a high level of academic and personal success and an environment of high expectations combined with individualized support. By implementing this program, all students will have access to all pathway options in their Grade 11 year.
Grade 11 and 12
In Grade 11 and 12, students will work with their guidance counselor and family to select courses that support their interests and post secondary pathway of choice. Based on the de-streamed focus on academic course content in Grade 9 and 10, students will be able to enter all Grade 11 and 12 pathways that are designed to prepare them for their next destination after high school. College, University/College, University or Workplace courses will be available to all students without the previous concern for prerequisite courses, as all students will have the necessary required courses. In Grade 11 and 12, it is time for students to make personal choices and pursue course interests that will lead them to the bright future they deserve.
Streaming and De-streaming History in Ontario
Prior to 2021, Ontario was the only province in Canada that streamed students as they entered Grade 9. While the original intent for Applied courses was to provide a different approach to learning, the perception grew that these courses were less academically rigorous.
Research shows students from racialized communities, low-income households, and other marginalized groups are more often encouraged to take Applied level courses, which then affects everything from graduation rates to employment opportunities later in life.
De-streaming is one way to help break down barriers for Black, Indigenous and racialized students, and provide all students with an equal opportunity to succeed. The anti-oppressive approach of de-streaming aims to help students keep their options open, as they learn and grow in their chosen pathways.
Effects of Streaming in Ontario
- Significantly lower numbers of students who take mostly Applied courses move on to post-secondary education, compared to those who take mostly Academic courses in Grade 9. There are significantly lower transition rates to post-secondary education for students who take mostly Applied courses compared to those who take mostly Academic courses in Grade 9.
- 59% of students who took the Grade 9 Applied mathematics course moved on to post-secondary education within 7 years, compared to 88% of students who took the Academic course.
Questions about de-streaming?
If you have questions about de-streaming, go to Frequently Asked Questions About De-streaming.