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TDSB Approves Policy to Improve Access to Specialized Schools and Programs

Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Categories: News Releases

Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Trustees have voted to approve the Student Interest Programs Policy which will improve access to the TDSB’s nearly 40 specialized schools and programs.

The policy will improve access by reducing systemic barriers - such as geographic, socio-economic and race – that were identified by members of the TDSB community during an extensive consultation process. Updates to the Student Interest Programs Policy include:

  • Using an interest-based application over an assessment of ability through auditions, formal portfolios, entrance exams or report cards.
  • Using a random selection process where interest exceeds available space.
  • Creating a unified and consistent application to streamline the process and promote fairness.

For several years, the TDSB has offered specialized schools and programs in areas such as the Arts, athletics, science, math, technology, Africentric, and others to support student engagement and provide a high-quality, focused education.

Changes to this policy are in addition to important work being undertaken as part of the TDSB’s Secondary Program Review which will grow and invest in local programs so that students have access to high-quality programs/courses through their local school. The review, which is currently underway, will take a number of years to fully implement.

Quick Facts

  • The Student Interest Programs Policy stems from the Optional Attendance Policy which was last updated in 2004.
  • The policy was developed following extensive consultation and feedback from students, parents/guardians, staff, TDSB Community Advisory Committees, and the broader community, as well as a review of best practices, system data, and TDSB enrollment trends.


“It is our responsibility to take action to improve access for all students where we identify systemic barriers. This new policy will ensure a greater number of students have access to these high quality programs and schools while reducing barriers that have long-prevented many students from even applying.”
- Alexander Brown, Chair, TDSB

“Every student with an interest, passion and motivation should have the opportunity to reach their full potential in local and central student interest programs at the TDSB. Our focus is on maintaining excellence and equity. There is immense talent and brilliance among students who will benefit from these programs.”
- Colleen Russell-Rawlins, Director of Education, TDSB