November 19th, 2017

When entering high school, Grade 8 students are provided a choice when choosing the courses they will take in grade 9. They have the liberty of taking the slightly more academically challenging and theoretical courses in the Academic stream, or taking a more hands-on approach to the course of their choice in the Applied level program. However, soon there may no longer be this option. Ontario’s Ministry of Education has announced their plan to de-stream the two programs, meaning students will no longer be separated into Applied or Academic level courses in grade 9.

Of course, like almost all decisive statements, this has generated quite a bit of conversation concerning the topic of education. To put all students regardless of their comfort level in a subject and learning style into a single standardized program is interesting to say the least. There is the argument that de-streaming completely disregards a student’s learning style, and their past success in a subject. Students who had trouble in a certain subject are going to be forced to take the class the same way they’ve always been taught, with a theoretical approach. If it hasn’t worked before, it certainly isn’t going to start working now.

The Ministry of Education has considered this argument and still has gone ahead with the de-streaming process. EQAO data from the last two years has revealed that there is a widening gap between Applied and Academic students. In the 2015-2016 school year, 32% of Applied students met provincial EQAO standards. This past 2016-2017 school year that statistic dropped to only 28% of applied students passing, while most academic students have more or less maintained their 80% success rate. This decrease in pass rates is a continuing trend as math literacy in high school students as a whole has declined. The declining success of these students in the applied level implies not an issue with the students, but rather an issue with the quality of education.

In brief, by de-streaming grade 9 classes, all students are offered the same level and quality of education. This new standard will make previously applied level students more successful by giving them the same opportunities as academic program students. This will perhaps ensure that all students can attend post-secondary education in the future, despite their past difficulties. Ultimately, the de-streaming and standardization of grade 9 programs will make education more equitable.



Gordon, Andrea. “Toronto High School Ends Streaming for All Grade 9 Students.”, 7 Sept. 2017,

Gordon, Andrea. “Educators Raise Alarm over Declining Scores for Applied Students.”, 25 Sept. 2017,


Mallick, Heather. “Someone Has to Stand up for the Gifted Students: Mallick.”, 24 Oct. 2017,

Queen’s Park Bureau, Kristin Rushowy. “PressReader.” – Connecting People Through News, 8 Sept. 2017,