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Ontario education minister reveals details of new Grade 9 math curriculum

Ontario education minister reveals details of new Grade 9 math curriculum-Milenio Stadium-Ontario
Ontario Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said in July 2020 that the province would end streaming, which forcues students to choose between “academic” or “applied” courses. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Ontario’s new Grade 9 math course, which will be the first to eliminate the practice of “streaming,” will involve more real-life applications of the subject and include lessons on financial literacy and coding.

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Students were previously streamed into “academic” or “applied” math courses in Grade 9, a practice that opponents said
discriminated against students from marginalized communities.

The new course will take effect in the fall and will cover more areas of mathematics.

English and French versions of the course will also be the same, while “respecting cultural and language differences,” according to provincial documents.

The province says the new curriculum will include more real-life examples of mathematical concepts and also look at the importance of mathematics across cultures.

There will also be a focus on coding and financial literacy, the province says, which would include concepts like understanding the appreciation and depreciation of assets, or learning how to modify a budget based on changes in circumstances.

In July 2020, the province said it would end the controversial practice of academic streaming, starting with math for new high school students.

Streaming — in which students must choose to pursue either an “academic” or “applied” track when they begin high school — has been shown to disproportionately affect Black and low-income students when it comes to graduation rates and the chance of going to a post-secondary institution.

At the time, Lecce called it a “systemic, racist, discriminatory practice.” Some educators and advocacy groups have long called for streaming to be ended.

Ontario is the only province in Canada where it is still common in public schools, though some boards, such as the Toronto District School Board, had already begun to phase it out when the initial announcement was made.

The Ministry of Education has previously said the “modernized” curriculum would focus on job and life skills for students.

The latest update to the Grade 9 math curriculum is the first since 2005, Lecce said in his announcement.

While the announcement only focused on ending streaming and updating the Grade 9 math curriculum, Lecce said the province will have “further announcements” regarding updates for the Grade 10, 11, and 12 math curricula.

The government says it will provide $40 million to train educators and some training materials will become available today.

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