Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Education




Dr Goli Rezai-Rashti


This study applies the concept of ‘curricular choice’ to the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP)—a 2-year pre-university program—as it operates as an alternative curriculum in Ontario public secondary schools. The adoption of the IBDP by public schools can be considered within a larger context of neoliberal educational reform which sees schools pressed to distinguish themselves from other schools in order to attract academically-able students and maintain enrollment (Tarc & Beatty, 2012). This study draws upon critical policy studies to interrogate how policy and practice affect equitable access to the IBDP in Ontario. A single-case study methodology with multiple units of analysis was deployed. This study confirms the IBDP to operate as a product of distinction in the Ontario education market—predominantly serving middle-class students. Findings of this research suggest a ‘policy vacuum’ regarding the IBDP in Ontario, in that the IBDP operates without any official policy to govern it at the provincial level. This is significant as it leads to an array of local interpretations on program enactment and resourcing, which contributes to a systemic problem of inequitable access. This study calls upon the attention of policy-makers to address this issue at the provincial level.