How to Get a Good School When Buying a Home in Toronto
In Toronto, a major criterion for choosing where to buy a house for families with kids is the quality of schools in the neighbourhood. This is because your home address determines which schools your children can attend all the way from primary school to high school. Before buying a home, it is important to research the schools assigned to homes in the neighbourhood as it might be close to impossible to change schools after your kids have been enrolled there. One way to do this is by comparing their rankings underneath both the Fraser and EQAO systems.
The Fraser ranking system
School ranking in Canada has been conducted by the Fraser Institute for over 2 decades, making it the go-to source for educators and parents. With this ranking system, parents can readily find out information about elementary (Grades 1-6), junior high (Grades 7-9) and secondary (Grades 10-12) schools, with detailed academic reports that assess how a school compares to other ranked schools. These reports also show if the school’s performance has gotten better or worse in the previous 5 years.
The Fraser Institute’s School Reports cover elementary and secondary schools in Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia as well as secondary schools in Quebec. Not all schools are ranked by the Fraser Institute. If a school you’ve searched for isn’t available under Fraser Institute’s Ranking System, it might be because not enough data has been collected by the province’s Ministry of Education to make a report.
The EQAO ranking system
In addition to the Fraser Ranking Method, Ontario also has an independent government body known as the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) that develops and oversees reading, writing and mathematics tests which Ontario students (in both English and French language school programs) must take in Grades 3, 6, 9, and 10.
The EQAO provincial assessment tests are used to measure a student’s math and literacy skills at key points in their primary, junior-high and secondary education, according to Ontario Curriculum expectations. EQAO test results help identify students’ areas of strengths and weaknesses, guide school improvement programs and gauge the quality of Ontario’s public schools. Yearly results of schools and school boards can be found on the EQAO website.
Finding homes covered by the best schools can be quite challenging. Scholarhood uses up-to-date metrics from both the Fraser Institute and EQAO to help you compare schools in a neighbourhood. With that information, you can buy real estate in a strategic neighbourhood that is zoned to the best school(s) for your kids.
What does a “school catchment area” mean?
The geographic area from which students are eligible to attend a local public school is known as the school catchment area. The allocation of a public school to a catchment area or zone is known as the public zoning system.
The catchment area forms the bulk of the school’s pupils, while for some schools the remaining students can come in through optional attendance. However, certain schools are closed to optional attendance and, if you moved out of the area, you would have to arrange for your child to be transferred to a new school for the next academic year.
Area boundaries are put in place by the province to regulate enrollment of pupils in schools within each catchment zone and to ensure students have equitable access to local public schools closest to their homes. You should be aware that if you move into a new building, the school assigned to it might be different from that of your next-door neighbour.
Generally speaking, homes located within the catchment areas of highly desirable schools tend to be more expensive and high in demand.
Finding the assigned schools for each neighbourhood
You can find the specific primary or secondary school assigned to your home address on the Toronto District School Board’s (TDSB) website.
The TDSB’s assignment system is complex and dynamic. You might expect that buildings next to each other would be assigned the same school, but this is not always the case. A good example of this is with Earl Haig Secondary School (one of Toronto’s famous high schools). Despite living in the school’s catchment area, students who live in newly constructed high-rise buildings are not assigned to this school.
The assignment system is complex because of the capacity limits of each school. If a school is full, then newly built buildings will not be assigned to it, despite being within its catchment area. As well, school and neighbourhood dynamics are constantly changing, and new data is constantly being used to refresh the assignments.
You should make these enquiries before your home purchase because you don’t have many options if you don’t like the school that’s assigned to you, and the options that you do have are often inconvenient or very expensive (e.g. going to the private schools).
Pro tip: For families with children, study the neighborhood’s schools catchment areas or attendance zones for the schools attached to each home.
How do I find my assigned school?
To find the public school assigned to your building, visit the Toronto District School Board’s Website and fill in your address in the search box. You can also browse school names on the website to locate the school that matches your residential address.
Finding the right school for your child is influenced by a lot of factors, including the location of your home. When choosing to buy a house in Toronto, you should conduct a thorough review of the schools associated with your potential candidates. You can find good local real estate agents on WOWA to help you through this process, and give you insider tips and advice.