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Academic or Applied?

With Grade 8 students across Ontario choosing their courses in preparation for their first year of high school, reports suggest that Grade 8 is simply too young to be deciding on what stream of courses to take (Academic or Applied). With so much riding on the decision, including options for post-secondary education, students might be better served if they could choose their academic path later in high school.

An article in the Toronto Star outlines research from a People for Education report suggesting Grade 10 or 11 would be a more appropriate and beneficial time to divide students between Academic and Applied streams. Under the current system, students from lower-income households are the most negatively effected by the early decision-making process, and the decision can “limit or cut off post-secondary options and even influence whether [students] graduate.” Other countries such as Finland, Spain, and Poland have already made moves to dividing students at a later stage, and many are suggesting we should follow suit, including the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

With many students unaware of what they want to do even at the time of high school graduation, it is hard to imagine that they can decide their future at the age of 13. Parents, though helping to make the decision, can also be unaware of the appropriate path and the implications. As well, no one can accurately predict how students will adjust to the new academic and social freedoms/challenges of high school, so basing a decision on elementary school performance is probably ill-advised. As one parent suggests, “[students] should go through Grade 9 and let the high school teachers do the recommendations because those teachers are more in unison with what the expectations are at the school.”

How did your family make this decision or how are you preparing to do so? Let us know!

To read the full report from People for Education, click here.
To read the Toronto Star article, click here.

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