Ontario Secondary School Requirements

In order to earn the OSSD, a student must:

  • earn 18 compulsory credits;
  • earn 12 optional credits;
  • complete 40 hours of community involvement activities;
  • successfully complete the provincial secondary school literacy test.

In order to earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), a student entering Grade 9 in the 1999–2000 school year or in subsequent years must earn a minimum of 30 credits, including 18 compulsory credits and 12 optional credits. Students must also complete 40 hours of community involvement activities and must pass the provincial secondary school literacy test.

The combination of compulsory and optional courses is designed to provide all students with the essential knowledge and skills they will need to function effectively in any area of activity, as well as the opportunities to acquire the specialized knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in their chosen postsecondary endeavors.

Compulsory Credits (total of 18)

Students must earn the following compulsory credits in order to obtain the Ontario Secondary School Diploma:

4 credits in English (1 credit per grade) 
1 credit in French as a second language 
3 credits in mathematics (at least 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 
.5 credit in civics 
.5 credit in career studies.

plus:

1 additional credit in English, or a third language, or social sciences and the humanities, or Canadian and world studies 
1 additional credit in health and physical education, or the arts, or business studies 
1 additional credit in science (Grade 11 or 12) or technological education (Grades 9–12)

Community Involvement Activities

As part of the diploma requirements, students must complete a minimum of 40 hours of community involvement activities. These activities may be completed at any time during their years in the secondary school program.

The community involvement requirement is designed to encourage students to develop awareness and understanding of civic responsibility and of the role they can play in supporting and strengthening their communities. The requirement will benefit communities, but its primary purpose is to contribute to students’ development. It will provide opportunities for students to learn about the contributions they can make to the community.

Students are first informed about diploma requirements, including the community involvement requirement, in Grades 7 and 8. The procedures for completing the requirement will be outlined in the secondary school course calendar, and further information will be provided by the principal when students enter secondary school.

Students, in collaboration with their parents, will decide how they will complete the community involvement requirement. They may use their annual education plan to identify possible activities they might undertake.

Community involvement activities may take place in a variety of settings, including businesses, not-for-profit organizations, public sector institutions (including hospitals), and informal settings. Students may not fulfill the requirement through activities that are counted towards a credit (cooperative education and work experience, for example), through paid work, or by assuming duties normally performed by a paid employee.

The requirement is to be completed outside students’ normal instructional hours – that is, the activities are to take place in students’ designated lunch hours, after school, on weekends, or during school holidays.

Students will maintain and provide a record of their community involvement activities. Completion of the required 40 hours must be confirmed by the organizations or persons supervising the activities. Documentation attesting to the completion of each activity must be submitted to the principal by the student. This documentation must include for each activity the name of the person or organization receiving the service, the activity performed, the dates and hours, the signatures of the student and his or her parents, and a signed acknowledgement by the person (or a representative of the organization) involved. The principal will decide whether the student has met the requirements of both the ministry and the board for these activities.

The Provincial Secondary School Literacy Test

All students who enter Grade 9 in the 1999–2000 school year or in subsequent years must successfully complete the provincial secondary school literacy test in order to earn a secondary school diploma. Since students will normally take the literacy test when they are in Grade 10, the test will be administered for the first time in the 2000–2001 school year. The test will be based on the Ontario curriculum expectations for language and communication – particularly reading and writing – up to and including Grade 9.

The test will serve both to determine whether students have acquired the reading and writing skills considered essential for literacy, and to provide confirmation that those students who have completed the test successfully have attained the provincial expectations for literacy. The test will identify those students who have not demonstrated the required skills and will identify areas in which these students need remediation. School boards are required to provide remedial assistance for students who do not complete the test successfully. This assistance should be designed to help students improve their skills so that they are better prepared to retake the literacy test. Once students have successfully completed the literacy test, they may not retake the test in the same language (i.e.., English or French).

OSSD Requirements