Parenting & Family

How and when to start preparing kids to get into a good public high school in York region

[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9686 posts
1143 upvotes

How and when to start preparing kids to get into a good public high school in York region

First of all, sorry if I ask any silly questions. Both my wife and I are first generation immigrants here in Canada, and we didn't attend grade school or high school here. Thus, we are not familiar with the process.

My kids are going to the grade school in the neighbourhood. The older one will be going to high school in the next couple of years. Could someone advise what the process is for applying a high school ? Do we need to apply each high school we would the kids to go to individually ? or there is a central process/form of application ? If we need to apply individually, is there a limit for the # of applications ? Also, I heard that there are different programs even in the same school e.g. IB program, AP program. Can we apply both general admission and IB/AP program for the same school ?

Lastly, I hope it is not too late to prep my older kid to get into a good school. What do high schools look at when they pick the candidates ? Academic performance in all grade school years, last two years, etc ?

Sorry for so many questions. Thanks in advance for any information and recommendations.
18 replies
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
22774 posts
21609 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
Ontario high schools work like Elementary & Middle Schools
Kids go to the school in their designated district / Neighbourhood
Only real choice you have is … the School Board
In Ontario there are 4 Boards …
English Public - English Catholic - French Catholic - or French Public
Beyond that …
Some schools offer different streams for Specialty Programs / intensive studies …
French Immersion - IB Programs - the Arts - or maybe Technology / Trades
(Been awhile since I was in your shoes … but I think there are still HSs offering Technology / Trades streaming)

If you want your kid to go to a specialty program, and there’s one offered by your School Board, then you have to apply thru The Board / The School

If you want your kid to go to another school out of the designated district school where you live … just because
Then that’s called a variance
And you have to apply for that too from relative School Board

As to prepping for High School
I believe it’s a life long education adventure
Just make sure your kids are achieving the goals set by the Teacher / Board / Province
Kids need to meet or surpass the basics to have the best possible chance of achieving their max
This is esp tru come HS as they prepare to go onto College or Uni

Colleges & Universities are becoming far more picky about their entry requirements
In regards to a Class or Year Average Marks

ADD - Gonna tag @OntEdTchr on this thread
They know far more than I do … as they are an actual teacher
Me … I am just an old fart with grown kids … who survived HS
And now are contributing members of society Smiling Face With Sunglasses

PS … this thread will probably be moved by the RFD MODS to the proper forum for such questions of education
The STUDENTS FORUM = students-f84/

Lol, it’s where several RFDers who are teachers hang out
So after the Mods move the thread you’ll prob get all sorts of great advice
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9686 posts
1143 upvotes
Thanks for the information. The HS we wish our kids can get into is a Catholic School in our district. I heard they offer AP program as well. Will there be a process or form in the coming year for my kid or us (parents) to fill out which school(s) in our district we want to apply ? I assume everyone will apply multiple ones as not everyone will be accepted by their first or second choices.
PointsHubby wrote: Ontario high schools work like Elementary & Middle Schools
Kids go to the school in their designated district / Neighbourhood
Only real choice you have is … the School Board
In Ontario there are 4 Boards …
English Public - English Catholic - French Catholic - or French Public
Beyond that …
Some schools offer different streams for Specialty Programs / intensive studies …
French Immersion - IB Programs - the Arts - or maybe Technology / Trades
(Been awhile since I was in your shoes … but I think there are still HSs offering Technology / Trades streaming)

If you want your kid to go to a specialty program, and there’s one offered by your School Board, then you have to apply thru The Board / The School

If you want your kid to go to another school out of the designated district school where you live … just because
Then that’s called a variance
And you have to apply for that too from relative School Board

As to prepping for High School
I believe it’s a life long education adventure
Just make sure your kids are achieving the goals set by the Teacher / Board / Province
Kids need to meet or surpass the basics to have the best possible chance of achieving their max
This is esp tru come HS as they prepare to go onto College or Uni

Colleges & Universities are becoming far more picky about their entry requirements
In regards to a Class or Year Average Marks

ADD - Gonna tag @OntEdTchr on this thread
They know far more than I do … as they are an actual teacher
Me … I am just an old fart with grown kids … who survived HS
And now are contributing members of society Smiling Face With Sunglasses

PS … this thread will probably be moved by the RFD MODS to the proper forum for such questions of education
The STUDENTS FORUM = students-f84/

Lol, it’s where several RFDers who are teachers hang out
So after the Mods move the thread you’ll prob get all sorts of great advice
Deal Expert
Feb 7, 2017
22774 posts
21609 upvotes
Eastern Ontario
rdx wrote: Thanks for the information. The HS we wish our kids can get into is a Catholic School in our district. I heard they offer AP program as well. Will there be a process or form in the coming year for my kid or us (parents) to fill out which school(s) in our district we want to apply ? I assume everyone will apply multiple ones as not everyone will be accepted by their first or second choices.
First question …
Is your family Catholic ?

Cuz in some Boards / Regions of the Province … that can affect your eligibility

In others, it’s just a matter of applying, and then changing the Education portion of your Municipal Taxes from designated Public, to Separate Board (Catholic) Supporter
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9686 posts
1143 upvotes
No, we are not Catholic but we know that Catholic schools in our district accept non Catholic HS students.
PointsHubby wrote: First question …
Is your family Catholic ?

Cuz in some Boards / Regions of the Province … that can affect your eligibility

In others, it’s just a matter of applying, and then changing the Education portion of your Municipal Taxes from designated Public, to Separate Board (Catholic) Supporter
Deal Addict
Mar 10, 2010
1515 posts
509 upvotes
Are your children currently attending Catholic Schools? Will they want to be sent to a completely different school system away from all of their friends? Why do you want them to go to the Catholic HS? Keep in mind that Catholic schools aren't hiring the best of all candidates, they're hiring the best of those who can prove that they're Catholic.... which in Math and Science can limit the candidate pool.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Jun 7, 2005
9686 posts
1143 upvotes
Clacker wrote: Are your children currently attending Catholic Schools? Will they want to be sent to a completely different school system away from all of their friends? Why do you want them to go to the Catholic HS? Keep in mind that Catholic schools aren't hiring the best of all candidates, they're hiring the best of those who can prove that they're Catholic.... which in Math and Science can limit the candidate pool.
No, they are attending public grade school right now. I am thinking about that Catholic school is because it is top 5 ranking school in Ontario. The other HS in my district is way lower in terms of ranking.
Deal Fanatic
Feb 4, 2010
6574 posts
6048 upvotes
rdx wrote: No, they are attending public grade school right now. I am thinking about that Catholic school is because it is top 5 ranking school in Ontario. The other HS in my district is way lower in terms of ranking.
Don't put so much faith and trust in rankings - many rankings just marketing schemes and rather useless in determining how good something is. University rankings are the worst.

Also, don't worry so much. Your kid isn't going to highschool for a few years and you're already falling into the trap about the 'best school' (usually it's university, I can't believe parents are actually doing that with highschool). Let your kids be kids instead of forcing them fulfill your dreams/expectations - sending them to the best school is all about YOU not them.
Member
May 21, 2012
321 posts
261 upvotes
Burlington
Clacker wrote: This is the only ranking list I trust. If you have two schools on this list you can directly compare how well they educate their students: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/grade-inflation-university-of-waterloos-secret-list-suggests-its-not-the-case-with-ottawa-schools.
I forgot about that list! I went to UW engineering in the late 1990's and everyone knew that they ranked high schools. I found it hilarious at the public reaction when "the news broke". That being said, it is probably a better indication of the university-bound math/science instruction quality from a particular high school than EQAO or other rankings. Things like the Fraser Institute that ranks based solely on the standardized test results don't take into account things like the percentage of the school in classes like life skills, etc. Our local high school has a large program for kids whose disabilities prevent them from taking typical high school courses and would not be able to attend college/university/trade apprenticeship. This is obviously going to affect the percentage of the school population that passes the literacy test and grade 9 math test, but had no affect on the quality of the education received by the kids that will be attending college/university/trade apprenticeship. On the other hand, schools with gifted/IB/etc. programs will probably do better in the standardized test-based rankings, but that doesn't affect the education of kids not in those programs.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Feb 3, 2005
4797 posts
916 upvotes
Georgetown
Clacker wrote: This is the only ranking list I trust. If you have two schools on this list you can directly compare how well they educate their students: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/grade-inflation-university-of-waterloos-secret-list-suggests-its-not-the-case-with-ottawa-schools.
Interesting - I heard of this list back in the day when I was applying to Waterloo... but had no idea it had been recently revealed. Now that we can see it, I know that the smaller sized high school I was coming from doesn't even have an adjustment number (at the time it was inferred my school would have a positive adjustment as it was an academic focused high school)... There was no way it was feeding 10 students per year into the Waterloo Engineering program though. I actually wish they would do this beyond just the Engineering faculty and release over/under performance numbers for all high schools, with program breakouts when the sample size allows it. As relative numbers, they are meaningful to compare how students perform when they transition to university.
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4529 posts
1093 upvotes
Toronto
PointsHubby wrote: Is your family Catholic ?

Cuz in some Boards / Regions of the Province … that can affect your eligibility
All Catholic high schools in Ontario have to accept non-Catholics -- by law. It's only the elementary schools that are allowed to turn away non-Catholics.
In others, it’s just a matter of applying, and then changing the Education portion of your Municipal Taxes from designated Public, to Separate Board (Catholic) Supporter
Only Catholics are allowed to designate MPAC support for the Catholic boards (one of the homeowners or tenants on the lease has to be Catholic). Technically, a non-Catholic designating support for a Catholic board is a kind of property tax fraud (though I doubt people would check).

You can still be non-Catholic, and send your kid to a Catholic high school, while keeping your MPAC support at the default English Public board. It doesn't make any difference financially, because of the Ontario education funding formula, but it gets you on the proper voter rolls when it comes to electing trustees -- only Catholics are allowed to vote for Catholic school board trustee positions.
Sr. Member
Jan 8, 2009
883 posts
576 upvotes
Simcoe County
hierophant wrote: Don't put so much faith and trust in rankings - many rankings just marketing schemes and rather useless in determining how good something is. University rankings are the worst.

Also, don't worry so much. Your kid isn't going to highschool for a few years and you're already falling into the trap about the 'best school' (usually it's university, I can't believe parents are actually doing that with highschool). Let your kids be kids instead of forcing them fulfill your dreams/expectations - sending them to the best school is all about YOU not them.
Agreed. Also, if your child has a good friend group, it's far more important to keep them with that group than tear them away and put them in a whole new setting.

Our daughter is almost finished her degree at U of T, has incredibly high marks, great work and research positions, and is looking at grad school. Her high school was not one of the highest ranked high schools but her core group of friends were going there and they were all smart, level-headed, self-motivated kids who supported each other and kept each other on the straight and narrow. One of her friends moved to another neighbourhood, went to one of the highest ranked high schools and basically fell apart because she had no support system and hated her new school.

Rank of high schools means nothing. Unless you can afford to send your kids to private school and even then you're getting "networking" for your money, not a guarantee of admission anywhere.
Newbie
Aug 30, 2017
84 posts
17 upvotes
There are 2 high schools (see link) in YCDSB that are capped schools and follow a different registration process. Admission isn’t guaranteed unless you come from the catholic elementary feeder school even if you are living within the school boundary. There are stories of parents lining up like 4am on registration day to get their kids into the school and only a handful are able to get in who aren’t from the feeder catholic elementary school. To get into the catholic elementary school, a parent or the student must be baptized.

https://www.ycdsb.ca/admissions/
Deal Addict
Nov 24, 2004
4529 posts
1093 upvotes
Toronto
slzz888 wrote: Admission isn’t guaranteed unless you come from the catholic elementary feeder school even if you are living within the school boundary.
Wow -- that's really interesting. Someone could probably make a successful court case against the YCDSB over that, if they were so inclined.
Deal Addict
Jan 2, 2015
2551 posts
2332 upvotes
NOT centre of Univer…
hierophant wrote: Don't put so much faith and trust in rankings - many rankings just marketing schemes and rather useless in determining how good something is. University rankings are the worst.

Also, don't worry so much. Your kid isn't going to highschool for a few years and you're already falling into the trap about the 'best school' (usually it's university, I can't believe parents are actually doing that with highschool). Let your kids be kids instead of forcing them fulfill your dreams/expectations - sending them to the best school is all about YOU not them.
110% this. We all want the best for our kids, and the ‘BEST’ school is the one that is the best fit for your child. My kid just entered high school. We let her choose her program and our input was the pros and cons and how it fits with what she may want. Rankings and off those don’t matter as much if the school matches your child’s learning needs and future desires.

Spend the time now helping your kids discover they strengths and interests instead of prepping them for a school, Reaseach should be done one not what is the ‘best school’ but rather ‘best school for them’.
On a 'smart' device that isn't always so smart. So please forgive the autocorrects and typos. If it bothers you, then don't read my posts, but don't waste my time correcting me. If you can get past the typos, then my posts generally have some value.
Deal Guru
Oct 7, 2010
12929 posts
3961 upvotes
slzz888 wrote: There are 2 high schools (see link) in YCDSB that are capped schools and follow a different registration process. Admission isn’t guaranteed unless you come from the catholic elementary feeder school even if you are living within the school boundary. There are stories of parents lining up like 4am on registration day to get their kids into the school and only a handful are able to get in who aren’t from the feeder catholic elementary school. To get into the catholic elementary school, a parent or the student must be baptized.

https://www.ycdsb.ca/admissions/
These two guys are capped because I think a lot of parents sort of like the OP. Wanting them to go to the best schools, so they over filled the school by moving into the district (sharing addresses and doing all these illegal things to get in). Those two are top ranked catholic high school in the districts. Similar they do that with TDSB for Earl Haig Secondary.

No biggie. All the high school in York region near there are top ranked anyways.

Better to send kids to private school if one can afford it.
Deal Fanatic
Aug 17, 2008
8439 posts
9209 upvotes
Clacker wrote: This is the only ranking list I trust. If you have two schools on this list you can directly compare how well they educate their students: https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-news/grade-inflation-university-of-waterloos-secret-list-suggests-its-not-the-case-with-ottawa-schools.
muskrat191 wrote: I forgot about that list! I went to UW engineering in the late 1990's and everyone knew that they ranked high schools. I found it hilarious at the public reaction when "the news broke".
Tiberius wrote: Interesting - I heard of this list back in the day when I was applying to Waterloo... but had no idea it had been recently revealed. Now that we can see it, I know that the smaller sized high school I was coming from doesn't even have an adjustment number (at the time it was inferred my school would have a positive adjustment as it was an academic focused high school)... There was no way it was feeding 10 students per year into the Waterloo Engineering program though. I actually wish they would do this beyond just the Engineering faculty and release over/under performance numbers for all high schools, with program breakouts when the sample size allows it. As relative numbers, they are meaningful to compare how students perform when they transition to university.
I just fell into this thread. That the Waterloo Eng dept bell curved HS admissions was known to have existed in our HS before the 90's, We had students change schools for Gr 13 to improve their grades. I see that my HS is still on that 2018 list in the article. Our understanding at the time was that we also had a positive adjustment as @Tiberius said. Different HS, probably.

I know that some universities do variance analysis in HS grades now and provide feedback or warnings in this case via a teacher.

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