Across Ontario, grade 8 students are required to register for high school courses which are classified into three levels: academic, applied, and locally developed/essentials. Typically, students take the majority of their courses at the same level, constituting a stream or pathway. Not only do these decisions impact students’ educational pathways through high school, they can have significant bearing on their post-secondary and career options.
While our education system strives to level the playing field for marginalized students, children of colour and lower income students are over-represented in lower streams which can limit their future opportunities and may not reflect their goals or potential.
While much research has been done on streaming, students’ and parents’ perspectives and experiences have not been widely captured. This study was designed to fill this gap by documenting families’ lived experiences of the course selection process in a high-need, urban neighbourhood. To better understand how streaming practices surfaced in the everyday experiences of families, this study explored the processes and influences affecting high school course selection. A total of 52 in-depth interviews were conducted with students and parents in the greater Weston-Mount Dennis area in Toronto.