The Ontario government has unveiled a new Grade 9 math curriculum set to begin this fall that would see academic and applied streams merge with a focus on coding and financial literacy that would better equip students with critical life and job skills.

Ontario's Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, said Ontario's Grade 9 curriculum will be modernized starting this September to provide students with valuable learning opportunities to support their success in the workforce. The updated course includes mandatory new learning on coding, data literacy, mathematical modelling, and an emphasis on financial literacy.

Through the new curriculum, students will use mathematical processes, mathematical modelling, and coding to make sense of the mathematics they are learning and how to apply their understanding to culturally responsive and relevant real-world situations.

This includes helping students build their financial literacy by learning to manage finances, such as working with budgets and understanding appreciation and depreciation of assets. Students will also learn how interest rates, down payments, and other factors impact purchasing decisions.

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The new course also ends the practice of streaming Grade 9 students into applied and academic courses, which has disadvantaged some students in the past.

The government says ending streaming will keep options open for all students to pursue post-secondary education and training in any pathway they choose.

The course modernization is a significant shift in how Ontario teaches students about mathematics and represents the first update since 2005 -- the same year YouTube was launched.

“With an emphasis on real-world applications for mathematics, this course will teach students valuable fundamentals that will give them a competitive advantage when they graduate," said Lecce.

"With new math-focused learning supports and a new curriculum, our government is taking the first step toward ending early streaming in Ontario, while promoting equal opportunities for all students.”

The new course is also part of the government’s plan to end streaming for Grade 9 students and to address the achievement gap and creation of barriers for students from historically marginalized groups, such as Black students, Indigenous students, students from low-income families, and students with disabilities or special education needs.

With the introduction of this curriculum, all high school students will take the same math course in Grade 9, which Lecce says will allow for the same eventual opportunities for all and an improved ability to pursue the pathway of their choice after their K-12 education.

While the announcement only focused on ending streaming and updating the Grade 9 math curriculum, Lecce said the province will have "further announcements" regarding updates for the Grade 10, 11, and 12 math curriculums.

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