As of September 2021, mathematics courses in Ontario are no longer offered at both the Applied and Academic levels in Grade 9. This change is the result of strong evidence across Waterloo Region and Ontario that supports not having Grade 8 students choose between applied and academic courses. The goal is to provide more equitable outcomes for all students.

Most students entering Grade 9 in September 2021 will be taking a new foundational math course (Course Code MTH1W) designed for all learners. More students will be empowered to pursue the futures they want, with doors open to all post-secondary options, including apprenticeship, college, university, or into the workplace.

“The de-streaming of the Grade 9 math curriculum is the first step towards further de-streaming in other curriculum areas, which will better support all students in having every opportunity to pursue the pathway of their choice after their K-12 education.”

– Office of the Premier, July 2020

Learn more about the Grade 9 Mathematics Course (MTH1W).

Streaming and De-streaming

Ontario is the only province in Canada that continues 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.

De-streaming will 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 on 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.

Why De-stream?

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, keeps course options open and supports all students to prepare for senior secondary 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 in mathematics and an equitable opportunity for their future studies. We strive for all our math 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).

Questions about de-streaming?

If you have questions about de-streaming, go to Frequently Asked Questions About De-streaming.