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Ontario Secondary School Diploma Requirements

Ontario Secondary School Diploma Requirements

The following requirements must be successfully completed in order to obtain an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD):

  • 30 credits including 18 compulsory credits and 12 optional credits*
  • 40 hours of community involvement
  • Successful completion of the EQAO Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) or the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC)

Compulsory credits

Students must earn the following 18 compulsory credits to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma:
  • 4 credits in English (1 credit per grade)*
  • 3 credits in Mathematics (1 credit in Grade 11 or 12)
  • 2 credits in Science
  • 1 credit in Canadian History
  • 1 credit in Canadian Geography
  • 1 credit in the Arts
  • 1 credit in Health and Physical Education
  • 1 credit in French as a Second Language
  • 0.5 credit in Career Studies
  • 0.5 credit in Civics
Plus one credit from each of the following groups:
  • Group 1: 1 additional credit in English, or French as a Second Language,** or a Native language, or a Classical or an International language, or Social Sciences and the Humanities, or Canadian and World Studies, or Guidance and Career Education, or Cooperative Education***
  • Group 2: 1 additional credit in Health and Physical Education, or the Arts, or Business Studies, or French as a Second Language,** or Cooperative Education***
  • Group 3: 1 additional credit in Science (Grade 11 or 12), or Technological Education, or French as a Second Language,** or Computer Studies, or Cooperative Education***
* A maximum of 3 credits in English as a second language (ESL) or English Literacy Development (ELD) may be counted towards the 4 compulsory credits in English, but the fourth must be a credit earned for a Grade 12 compulsory English course.
** In groups 1, 2 and 3, a maximum of 2 credits in French as a Second Language can count as compulsory credits, one from group 1 and one from either group 2 or group 3.
*** A maximum of 2 credits in Cooperative Education can count as compulsory credits.
The 12 optional credits may include up to 4 credits earned through approved dual credit courses.
Optional Courses
In addition to the compulsory credits, 12 optional credits are required. Elective credits are selected by the student based on individual interests and goals. Parents, counsellors, teachers and administrators can help the student make a wise selection.
Students who wish to enrol in a Focus Program or an Online Course should obtain a Supplementary Option Sheet from the Student Services or Guidance Department. The Supplementary Option Sheet must be submitted at the same time as the home school option sheet.

Community Involvement
As part of the diploma requirements, each student must make a positive contribution to the well-being of the community. The community involvement consists of student self-directed activities of at least 40 hours which must be completed before graduation. The activities must occur outside normal instructional hours.
The purpose of the community involvement is to promote community values by:

  • helping students understand how they can make a positive difference in their environment
  • having students demonstrate their integrity
  • having students contribute to their community
  • increasing student awareness of community needs
  • discovering the role students can play in making their communities better places in which to live and work
  • developing a positive self-image and a greater sense of identity in the community
  • providing a possibility for exploring career opportunities

Since September 1999, all students in Ontario have been required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of community involvement as part of the secondary school diploma requirements.

Students are eligible to start accumulating community involvement hours in the summer before they enter grade 9. In order to ensure that activities are on the OCDSB list of eligible activities, the student should consult the following websites to ensure that chosen activity conforms to the OCDSB guidelines for suitable and acceptable community involvement.

For further information, please consult the document OCDSB Guidelinesfor Community Involvement available at www.ocdsb.ca/stu/cs/Pages/default.aspx and www.ocdsb.ca/med/pub/Publications%20%20Updated/Community_Involvement.pdf 
Before starting your volunteer activity please download the Community Involvement Notification and Activity Completion Sheet and obtain the approval of your school Principal/designate before starting the activity. Community Involvement Forms are also available at your school. Completed forms must be signed and submitted to your secondary school to ensure your community involvement hours are recorded.

EQAO Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)
The Ontario Ministry of Education has mandated that the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) be given to grade 10 students province-wide to determine if they can successfully demonstrate the reading and writing skills that apply to all subject areas in the provincial curriculum up to the end of grade 9.

The OSSLT is administered annually in the spring and is 2.5 hours in length. The OSSLT is designed, and its implementation is supervised, by the Ontario Education and Accountability Office (EQAO).

Receiving an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) depends on passing the OSSLT. Students who are not successful on the test are able to attempt it again, in a future administration, or enrol in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC).*

Students with special needs may be permitted accommodations provided they have an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Students enrolled in ESL/ELD programs may be permitted special provisions or they may be deferred so that they write the OSSLT once they have a reasonable chance of success. Policies and guidelines regarding accommodations, deferrals, and exemptions are established and provided by EQAO.

* Note: Enrolment in the OSSLC is limited to students who have written and have been unsuccessful on the OSSLT at least once.
Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC)

Students who have written the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test at least once and have not been successful may take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC). Upon successful completion of the course, a student is deemed to have met the literacy requirements necessary to achieve an OSSD.

Certificate Requirements
The Ontario Secondary School Certificate
The Ontario Secondary School Certificate will be granted on request to students who leave school before earning the Ontario Secondary School Diploma provided that they have earned a minimum of 14 credits distributed as follows:

Compulsory Credits (total of 7)
  • 2 credits in English
  • 1 credit in Canadian Geography or Canadian History
  • 1 credit in Mathematics
  • 1 credit in Science
  • 1 credit in Health and Physical Education
  • 1 credit in the Arts or Technological Education

Optional Credits (total of 7)
7 credits selected by the student from available courses The provisions for making substitutions for compulsory credits also apply to the Ontario Secondary School Certificate.

The Certificate of Accomplishment
Students who leave school before fulfilling the requirements for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma or the Ontario Secondary School Certificate may be granted a Certificate of Accomplishment. The Certificate of Accomplishment may be a useful means of recognizing achievement for students who plan to take certain adaptive programs, or other kinds of additional training, or who plan to find employment after leaving school.
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