Ontario Changes High School Course Streaming and Other Systemic Racist Practices

Friday, July 10, 2020

The provincial government announced it will be ending Grade 9 streaming into applied and academic courses starting September 2021 in order to break down systemic racism. 

Currently, students entering high school in Ontario have a choice to enroll in academic or applied courses. Students are asked to choose between more practical, hands-on applied courses, and more theoretical academic courses in core subjects like math, science and English.

Applied-level courses have multiple negative outcomes and limited opportunities for post-secondary advancement. The school system reform aims to provide Black, Indigenous and racialized students with equal opportunities so they can succeed.

The first action will introduce a new foundational grade 9 math course next fall and will work with school boards as they transition students into the de-streamed Grade 9 math program. This 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.

Other actions in the plan include:

  • eliminating discretionary suspensions for students
  • strengthening sanctions for teachers who engage in racist behaviour 
  • providing teachers with additional anti-racism and anti-discrimination training

Over the last 23 years, the Ontario College of Teachers reports that there have been 32 instances of teacher discipline for racist or homophobic behavior or remarks.

The Ministry of Education has also proposed additional anti-racism and anti-discrimination training before the end of the calendar year. The government is currently consulting with teachers' federations, education workers' unions, and trustees' associations on the implementation of this critical initiative.

To learn more about what the government is doing to break down systemic racism barriers in Ontario visit Ontario Taking Bold Action to Address Racism and Inequity in Schools.