Academic streaming still an issue, says education expert

The practice of academic streaming was officially abolished in Ontario high schools 15 years ago, but a champion of education reform says that in reality, the practice continues.

Academic streaming was officially removed from Ontario high schools 15 years ago, but a champion of education reform says it is still going on in another form and that could be harming kids as they are forced to plan their futures early. 

Annie Kidder is the executive director of People for Education, a public education advocacy group that has released a new report on streaming and academic success.

She says kids are faced with choosing an academic or applied education in grade eight, and she believes that's too early for kids to choose. 

"Dividing students this early actually sort of reinforces disadvantage, it actually makes students who are already struggling a bit even less successful," she said. 

Kidder is also concerned parents aren't getting the information they need to make informed decisions with and for their children.

However, Rob Haas, who represents parents on the school council at Central Secondary School in London, says making the choice is less about timing and more about getting informed input from people who know the students. 

"You definitely want to rely on those that are very familiar with it, such as the elementary school staff who could help direct the child," said Haas.

Kidder says delaying the decision even one more year would encourage some students to perform better in their studies.