Choice for High School Students in Canada
Preparing for the first day of high school can be exciting as well as a worrisome process for both students and their parents. As parents, we want the best experience for our child – both academically and socially – during the formative and sometimes complicated teenage years. That’s why many parents consider looking beyond their ‘local’ high school for an environment that suits their child’s aptitudes and interests.
Generally speaking, school choice within the publicly funded system means having the ability to choose a school without having to move to another school district or boundary. And the good news is there is choice for high school students.
- Linguistic or religious preference: In Canada, there is school choice based on preference for instruction in English or French. Separate school boards offer families choice to receive religious instruction in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Mostly Roman Catholic, these schools accept students of different faiths.
- Charter schools offer another choice to families in Alberta. These autonomous, not-for-profit schools provide alternative programs and teaching methods than public schools.
- Homeschooling is also a choice for parents across Canada. In Alberta, a portion of the government per student funding is available for parents who choose to set up a home school.
- Open enrolment policies give parents the greatest choice in schools. These policies are implemented by the school boards in different ways, including: accepting ‘out of boundary’ students upon request; the removal of geographic boundaries for certain schools within the board; and availability of specialized programs for example, in art, music, or athletics.
According to Fraser Institute, the top education ‘think tank’ in Canada, studies the topic of school choice in Canada and concludes that “education is broadly improved when parents have choice and schools are forced to compete.”
Understanding School Choice in Canada, University of Toronto Press (June 2016).
Measuring Choice and Competition in Canadian Education: An Update on School Choice in Canada, Fraser Institute (February 2014).