October 8 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 23  

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Thousands avoided double cohort year

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

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 TDSB.

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 he disagreed.

"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 pretty quickly."




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