Learning from Educator Experiences with Grade 9 Destreaming Supports and Strategies

Learning from Educator Experiences with Grade 9 Destreaming Supports and Strategies was written by Ryan Tishcoff and Jackie Pichette.

Destreaming workshop provided educators an opportunity to share experiences and offer recommendations for improvement.

The Ontario government first announced plans to destream Grade 9 compulsory courses, starting with grade 9 math, in July of 2020. Since then, the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) has engaged school boards and other sector stakeholders to monitor the implementation of these plans and ensure students have the supports they need to succeed in destreamed classrooms. Knowing that educators play a key role in implementing education policies, HEQCO organized a full-day, in person workshop to gather insights and impressions from teachers, in-class support staff, department heads, principals, vice principals and board administrators involved with destreaming initiatives at two Ontario school boards. Our latest data brief Learning from Educator Experiences with Grade 9 Destreaming Supports and Strategies summarizes the themes that emerged from the workshop.

The workshop took place on March 30, 2023 and was attended by approximately 80 educators. Workshop discussion topics were designed to address two research questions:

  • What are educators’ experiences with and impressions of destreaming supports and strategies?
  • How do educators feel destreaming supports and strategies could be improved?

Three main themes emerged from the workshop discussions:

  1. Concern that students and families are uninformed about pathways: Many students and families are not aware of the relationship between course selection and pathways after graduation. Course terminology can also cause confusion.
  2. Need for new teaching frameworks grounded in equity and inclusion: Teachers and support staff are struggling to accommodate the broad range of student learning needs and styles that are often present in a destreamed environment.
  3. Need for timely, adequate and consistent student supports and updates to curriculum: Curriculum development across destreamed subjects (math, science, geography, English and French) has been inconsistent and supports are aimed disproportionately at math students.

Educators represent a key stakeholder group whose views should continue to be captured in future destreaming research, evaluation and policy implementation efforts. A 2020 HEQCO report detailed the history of destreaming in Ontario and made some early recommendations. In August of 2023 we released a report that examined student supports for Grade 9 destreamed math. HEQCO will continue to engage with stakeholders on destreaming in order to seek out opportunities to maximize student success.