Upper Grand phasing out applied, academic streams for Grade 9 students

GUELPH – The Upper Grand District School Board will begin de-streaming Grade 9 courses this fall, starting with math.

The board of trustees heard a presentation from staff at its March 30 meeting, explaining that separating students into applied and academic streams is an example of systemic racism and exclusion.

“Students who are Black, Indigenous, have Special Education needs and are from low-income families are disproportionately represented in applied and essential courses,” reads a statement from the school board.

“This unfairly impacts their ability to earn credits, graduate high school and apply to postsecondary education.”

A staff committee is working to phase out all Grade 9 applied and academic courses and offer de-streamed courses for all Grade 9 students instead.

Streaming has been in place for decades, but last summer the Ministry of Education announced it would end the practice for students in Grade 9.

“The original intention behind applied courses was to provide a different pedagogical approach to learning. Over time, the applied course type has become perceived as less academically rigorous,” reads the minutes from the Upper Grand’s March 2 program committee meeting, where staff made a full presentation.

“Data showed that the students most likely to be streamed into this course type are students who are Indigenous, Black, from low-income households, and/or have disabilities or other special education needs.

“Students in the applied course stream are limited in the courses they can take in later grades, which in turn limits their access to post-secondary pathways.”

Once students have a year of high school under their belts, they are better prepared to decide their academic intentions. In this way schools can “remove barriers and support more students to graduate from secondary school and pursue post-secondary education pathways of their choice,” the statement reads.

Applied and academic streams will begin for students in Grade 10.