The Toronto District School Board offers nearly 40 specialized schools and programs such as High Performing Athletes, Arts, Africentric, Math, Science & Technology, Integrated Technology, Leadership Pathway and Cyber Arts. While these specialized programs have provided outstanding opportunities for some students, barriers to access including admission processes, entrance criteria and geography, have limited these opportunities for a significant number of students. Through the new Student Interest Programs Policy all students will have greater access to these outstanding programs.
This policy was developed following extensive consultation and feedback from students, parents/guardians, staff, and the broader community, as well as a review of best practices, system data, and TDSB enrollment trends. A number of updates to the policy will improve access and remove long-standing barriers, while maintaining high quality programming. These changes include:
- Assessments of ability (auditions, formal portfolios, entrance exams, report card marks, etc.) will no longer be used, however students will be required to demonstrate an interest or passion in their chosen field of study.
- A Random Selection Process - something that is already being used in a number of specialized programs - will be used only where interest exceeds available space.
Changes to this policy are in addition to important work to grow and invest in local programs so that students have access to high-quality programs/courses through their local school. This is the focus of our Secondary Program Review, which is currently underway, but it will take a number of years to be fully implemented across the TDSB secondary schools.
We recognize that changing long-standing processes can be difficult, but we believe that all students deserve access to multiple pathways to pursue their dreams and passions and realize their full potential. This new policy allows us to begin this important work now.