Thousands avoided double cohort year
By Dan Perry
More than half of Grade 12 students in Toronto, confronted
with the admissions crunch spurred by the double cohort, chose
to run victory laps.
The Toronto District School Board reported that among all
Grade 12 classes, 56 per cent of students could have left high
school by now, but are instead opting for a fifth year, confirmed
Suzanne Leduc-Aylen, senior media relations officer at the
While this might imply a problem with the provincial government's
promise that every "willing and qualified student" will
find a placement in post-secondary school, Dave Ross, spokesperson
for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said
"There is not a problem in education; students are making
choices in conjunction with their parents. What the government
promised to do is make space for every willing and qualified
student, which they did. If the students didn't come, that's
their own choice," Ross said.
University Students' Council VP-education Dave Ford raised
some questions about the policy: "That's always been the
question - what this 'qualified' means. If you move the benchmark,
you change what qualified means," he said.
"The reason they're staying in school is to avoid the
competition," Ford said, adding with an increased entrance
average derived from increased competition, "qualified" can
set a higher standard than it did in prior years.
Ross noted, however, when the Council of Ontario Universities
compared this year's entrance averages to those of past years,
there was a difference of less than 0.1 per cent. "The
new class was just as well-prepared as the those from the old
cohort," he added.
In contrast to the TDSB's numbers, the Thames Valley District
School Board's figures show 25.8 per cent of their final-year
students remained in the high school system, reported Chris
Dennett, the TVDS's manager of public affairs
More than 30 secondary schools in the Thames Valley area presented
a disparity in averages, he said, citing a low return rate
of 12 per cent at London Central Secondary School and a high
of 45 per cent at St. Thomas' Central Elgin Collegiate Institute.
"This was the year of the double cohort - there's no
question that we have a large number of returning students,
but they are returning for a wide variety of reasons; they
could be coming back to for a single subject, or to raise their
averages, or because they just weren't ready [for university]," Dennett
explained. "Some students set their targets on certain
universities and if that doesn't work out [based on] marks
or finances or whatever reason, it closes down their options