The Ontario Secondary School Diploma

June 2000

Ontario's new rigorous high school diploma requires students to earn 30 credits between grades nine and 12. Eighteen of the credits are compulsory and 12 are optional. 

The compulsory credits for a high school diploma are: 

  • 4 in English (one credit in each grade) 
  • 3 in Math with at least one credit at a grade 11 or 12 level 
  • 2 in Science 
  • 1 in Canadian History 
  • 1 in Canadian Geography. 
  • 1 in the Arts - drama, music, art, or dance 
  • 1 in Health and Physical Education 
  • 1 in Civics and Career Studies (a half-credit in each) 
  • 1 in French as a second language 
  • 1 in Grade 11 or 12 Science or in Grade 9 -12 Technology 
  • 1 in English/Français or a third language, Social Science, Canadian and World Studies 
  • 1 in Physical Education, Business/Entrepreneurial Studies or the Arts - music, dance, visual art or drama 
All students are also required to participate in 40 hours of community involvement before they graduate. And, beginning in the fall of 2001, students must pass a Grade 10 literacy test to get their high school diplomas. 

Community involvement in high school

Many students are finding community involvement is one of the most rewarding experiences in their high school program. 

Some students volunteer in nursing homes, others may help a house-bound senior with yard-work while still others may tutor younger students in reading or writing. By getting involved in community work, students learn civic responsibility and community values. 

Students meet their community involvement requirement on their own time. School boards develop a clear process and clear expectations so students and teachers know how students meet and report on their activities. 

Community involvement is flexible so all students can find ways to participate. The Ministry is also working with school boards and other groups in remote and rural communities so that all students, including students with special needs, have opportunities to participate. 

The literacy test

Literacy is essential in today's competitive world. To ensure that students have the literacy skills they need for future success, all students must take a standardized literacy test in Grade 10. Passing this test will become part of the high school diploma requirement for students who begin Grade 10 in the fall of 2001. 

Some students may find they have further work to do after they take their literacy test in Grade 10. School boards and schools will offer remediation and extra support to students who fail the test so they can improve their reading and writing skills and re-take the test in later grades. This makes sure that all students who receive a high school diploma will have the skills that parents, employers and teachers have told us are essential in a competitive global economy. 

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