September will soon be upon us and for many students, the first day of high school is already looming! For students entering Grade 9, course selection and academic streaming can be confusing. The following is intended to help clarify the distinctions between the types of courses offered, and is based on the information provided in the Ministry of Education’s Program Planning and Assessment document.
The new curriculum allows students to make choices based on their strengths and interests. The course selections are organized into three categories: academic, applied and open. Students entering Grade 9 must choose between either academic or applied courses for each of the core subjects: English, French, Math, Science, Geography and History.
Applied courses are intended to develop “students’ knowledge and skills through practical applications and concrete examples.” These courses are beneficial for students whose learning style is suited to practical, hands-on experience based on tangible examples from everyday life. These courses are suitable for students who are interested in going on to college, but not university.
Academic courses are designed to foster students’ knowledge and skills through the “study of theory and abstract problems”. These courses focus on integrating the central concepts with critical thinking and communication. Practical applications are explored as a means of grounding theory in the solution of real-world problems. These courses are suitable for students who are interested in going to university.
Open courses prepare students for further study in a particular subject and are designed to be accessible to all students. Most elective (non-core) subjects are open courses.
If students are successful in their Grade 9 course, they can move on to either the applied or academic core courses in Grade 10. If they decide to transfer from the applied to the academic stream, students must first complete additional coursework (crossover material) to “demonstrate achievement of the learning expectations”. http://www.psbnet.ca/eng/schools/sjw/secondary_program.html
When choosing courses in Grades 9 and 10, it is important that students carefully consider and select the prerequisites that will enable them to pursue the senior courses that meet the requirements of their chosen destination. Charts outlining the prerequisite(s) for each course and the progression of courses from Grade 9-12 are available in the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Course Descriptions and Prerequisites (2010): http://bit.ly/arKq9k.
Stay tuned for a blog about the types of courses offered in Grades 11 and 12!