Struggling students in Newmarket and throughout York Region are getting access to Grade 10 applied math after the York Region District School Board discontinued the course.
Parents are reporting options to take the course are being offered, with a few schools getting classes together, including Newmarket High School. This comes after months of advocacy work by parents who were concerned that the school board only offered academic courses for Grade 10 math last school year.
York Region parent Rozanne Treger said her daughter is finally getting into applied math during the daytime hours after struggling in academic math last year. Her daughter’s school, Westmount Collegiate Institute in Thornhill, has opened up a section for applied math.
“I won’t say it’s perfect, but definitely moving in the right direction,” Treger said.
The school board discontinued Grade 10 applied math and history last school year to further de-streaming, an educational concept meant to improve outcomes and avoid unfairly pigeonholing students into the more advanced academic courses or applied courses. Although the Ministry of Education has introduced a destreamed course for Grade 9 math, no such course exists for Grade 10, meaning the board only offered academic math widely.
However, many students and parents experienced struggles with the academic-only option despite educational supports. The change more than doubled the Grade 10 math failure rate from 4.7 per cent to 9.7 per cent, year over year in the first semester.
The board relented and agreed to bring back applied math on a case-by-case basis last June. While uncertainty existed at the start of the school year, Treger said staff have become much more communicative in the past couple of weeks and set up options.
“Most parents who have been in touch with them have said they have been offered more than one option,” Treger said. “The parents seem to have received more communication.”
Senior manager of corporate communications Licinio Miguelo said administrators have engaged to provide enhanced support to students who were at risk of not attaining a Grade 10 math credit last year.
“As part of continuing this work, schools are engaging with these students/families to discuss various options, including the potential option of accessing Grade 10 applied math course to students in select situations,” Miguelo said.
Other options include things like night school and alternative education.
“Decisions on the option are made on a case-by-case basis and will reflect the best interest of each student,” Miguelo said.
Parents were unsure about having a daytime class option. Although that will not be at every school based on data, Treger said that option matters a lot for her family.
“It’s great because it means that she can have two nights free a week that other kids do. She’s got other extracurricular activities,” she said, adding that a night school option “was going to be difficult.”
The applied course is not getting offered widely, although Treger said she knows some Grade 10 students are getting the applied option, not just Grade 11 students who missed the credit last year.
After months of effort, Treger said her advocacy is largely complete. She recognized that destreaming stands to continue but said there should be more specifically made courses for that in the future.
"I hope everyone is going to be given the same opportunities,” Treger said. “It’s just making sure that anybody who doesn’t know about it (limited availability of the course) is educated about it.”