SUDBURY—The superintendent of schools for the Rainbow District School Board (RDSB) is pleased with the provincial government announcement of the new modernized math course that, among other things, will end the practice of streaming Grade 9 students into applied and academic courses, a practice that has in the past disadvantaged some students.
“Last month marked the 16th anniversary (2005) that the last changes were made to the math curriculum,” Judy Noble told The Expositor. “That in itself tells the story of the need for significant changes and concepts to be made.”
“It was time for changes to be made in the curriculum, and I’m pleased with most of the content announced by the province,” said Ms. Noble. “Ontario is the only province in Canada which has had streaming in Grade 9. In other provinces, this takes place in Grade 10 or 11. And there have been some fallouts with the Grade 9 streaming.”
Ms. Noble said, “for all students, pathways are good. However, for Grade 9 students to have to go through the practice of streaming has provided some inequities. I’m not sure most students in Grade 9 and at that age understand how the choices they make on their pathway will affect their entire life.”
“The real benefit is giving kids a year to settle into high school, to engage with their peers and learn from each other good learning habits and making their decisions on the route they are going to take,” Ms. Noble said. “So, I am very pleased with the (provincial announcement). She said with destreaming there were fallouts, and inequities, especially for vulnerable groups of students for instance those dealing with poverty. These vulnerable students are more likely to opt for the applied pathway but students may not understand that in this path it doesn’t provide a way to get into university courses.”
“With the end of destreaming, students in Grade 9 can spend a year getting settled into high school, and that allows them to choose a pathway that will mean their future desires in education,” said Ms. Noble.
Ontario’s Minister of Education (MOE) Stephens Lecce announced on June 9 the release of a new Grade 9 math course as part of the province’s four-year mathematics strategy to ensure all students can build the skills and confidence they need to succeed and excel. Intended to equip students with valuable learning opportunities that will support their success in the workforce, the course includes mandatory new learning on coding, data literacy, mathematical modelling and an emphasis on financial literacy.
The new course also ends the practice of streaming Grade 9 students into applied and academic courses. Ending streaming will keep options open for all students to pursue postsecondary education and training in any pathway they choose. The MOE will also work with its education partners to ensure teachers and students are supported with the new math course.
To new math course proposes to better equip students with the skills they need to succeed, lift student math performance, strengthen numeracy skills and be relevance to today’s job market with an emphasis on practical life skills, from the concept of interest, debt, savings, personal budgeting and price comparisons. It builds on learning from the modernized and landmark Grade 1-8 math curriculum to better prepare students for more advanced math to allow students to purse any postsecondary, skilled trade and pathway in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that they choose. And the change also helps students prepare for the jobs of tomorrow by introducing new learning of how to apply coding skills to understand complex mathematics and to make predictions. In addition, the course builds on students’ understanding of data to represent and analyze real-life situations.
“The MOE is also planning to roll out in the next three years destreaming other Grade 9 courses, which I think is good,” said Ms. Noble.
The new course is part of the government’s plan to end streaming for Grade 9 students to address policies and practices to address the achievement gap and creation of barriers for student from historically marginalized groups, such as Black students, Indigenous students, students from low-income families and students with disabilities or special education needs. With the introduction of this curriculum, all high school students will take the same math course in Grade 9, which will allow for the same eventual opportunities for all and an improved ability to pursue the pathway of their choice after Kindergarten to Grade 12 education.