Grade 13 could be making a comeback for a limited time: Del Duca

KITCHENER, Ont.-Grade 13 could be making a comeback for a limited time.

Students who feel the need to “catch up” after missing many months of classroom learning during the pandemic could opt for an additional senior year of high school under a $295 million plan unveiled Friday by Liberal leader Steven Del Duca in the June 2 election campaign.

“Many of the older students are not ready for college or university,” he said in a statement.

“Giving those kids the choice to go to grade 13 will ensure they’re prepared for the next big step in their lives.”

Del Duca said he would offer grade 13 for four years to help kids who entered high school during the COVID-19 years get up to speed — and the merits of continuing the optional extra year at the time.” re-evaluate”.

Ontario students have endured the longest periods of online-only classes in North America due to strict public health measures here.

In fact, teens completing Grade 11 across the county next month haven’t had a full, normal year of high school yet.

After many years of debate, Ontario ended a fifth year of high school in 2003 because it was the only jurisdiction in North America to offer one, although thousands of students now do “victory rounds” to improve their grades or take additional courses. .

A number of studies have pointed to the phenomenon of “learning loss” during the pandemic, with the Toronto District School Board, for example, noting sharp declines in reading levels. In February, Education Minister Stephen Lecce earmarked an additional $35 million for student grants.

Del Duca referred to the challenges his own two girls, one in elementary school and the other now in high school, have been facing since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“I have watched with pain as our daughters struggled with distance learning and lockdowns that brought them back both academically and socially.”

A return to grade 13 would mark one of the biggest changes to the school system in two decades and is one of several new boards in the liberal education platform released Friday.

It includes hiring an additional 1,000 mental health professionals for students and staff, hiring an additional 5,000 special education staff to reduce wait times for students with autism, expanding the student nutrition program to include free “Ontario- grown’ breakfast to children who need them, and replacing EQAO testing with a new assessment strategy.

“We will work with parents, teachers and education experts to develop it,” a liberal source told the Star.

Del Duca has already proposed building 200 new schools and repairing or upgrading 4,500 others and a fixed limit of 20 students per class in all classes, a move that would require hiring 10,000 additional teachers, but has raised concerns about more split-grade classes and whether there are enough educators to be found in the current shortage.

He said the $10 billion saved from killing progressive conservative leader Doug Ford’s plan to build Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass of Highway 400 would serve to improve public education.

Under the Grade 13 proposal, school boards would get full funding for every student and the county would change its current policy to reduce funding for students who make a “victory round” after completing the 34 credits now required for graduation,” pause”.

New courses for grade 13 include personal finance, civics, mental health and wellness.

Concerns about learning loss during the pandemic are widespread among educators, who are concerned about students not logging in regularly for distance learning, no reliable internet, a quiet place to study or a parent at home to help.

The end of fifth grade in high school fueled a spike in college and university enrollment, a phenomenon known as the “double cohort” that forced post-secondary schools to add capacity as students from both grades if 13 reached campuses at the same time. time.

With files by Kristin Rushowy

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