High School Graduation Requirements, Assessments and Expectations

Assessments happen throughout the school year to help improve student learning. Assessment is the process of gathering, from a variety of sources, information that accurately reflects how a student is achieving the curriculum expectations in a subject or course. Evaluation is the process of judging the quality of student learning on the basis of established criteria and assigning a value to represent that quality. Both assessments and evaluations are common in the high school environment.

To earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, your child needs to:

  • Complete 30 or more high school course credits
  • Complete two asynchronous e-learning courses before the end of grade 12
  • Pass the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)
  • Complete 40 hours of volunteer community involvement

This page was created to help students and parents quickly understand the major concepts behind these requirements. You can find more in-depth information in our High School Guide.

What happens if students don’t meet course requirements?

If your child does not meet the three required elements for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma, they can still receive an Ontario Secondary School Certificate (14+ credits) or the Certificate of Accomplishment (fewer than 14 credits). If you’re 18 or older and want to earn additional high school credits or your diploma, visit St. Nicholas Adult High School.

You can learn more about high school report cards and grades in our High School Academic Handbook.

Understanding High School Course Types

Each high school course has a corresponding course code that helps students and parents identify the type of course it is, the level it is taught at and more. There are also a number of credits that are compulsory to earning your high school diploma.

Compulsory High School Courses By Grade

Grade 9Grade 10Grade 11Grade 12
Canadian GeographyCanadian HistoryElective or CompulsoryElective
FrenchCareers and CivicsElectiveElective
Physical EducationElective or CompulsoryElectiveElective
Elective or CompulsoryElective or CompulsoryElectiveElective
Student selects up to 1 optional coursesStudent selects up to 2 optional coursesStudent selects up to 5 optional coursesStudent selects up to 6 optional courses

High School E-Learning Credits

e-Learning courses are asynchronous online courses instructed by a certified Ontario educator who provides on-going feedback, assessment, evaluation, and reporting. E-learning teachers also incorporate any accommodations and/or modifications identified in a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP). E-learning students can also access a wider course selection than that available at their home school.

Completing your high school volunteer hours

To graduate high school, your child must participate in community involvement activities by completing 40 hours of volunteer work. They can start as early as July before they begin Grade 9. These activities must be:

If your child is under 18, you must sign the Community Involvement Record.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)

The literacy test usually takes place in March of your child’s Grade 10 year. The test is meant to determine whether they have the skills in reading and writing that they will need to succeed in school, at work, and daily. If students are unsuccessful in their first attempt, they can retake the test in subsequent years. Schools can also offer students the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course in place of the test after the first attempt. You can learn more about the OSSLT in our High School Hand Book.

Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectations

Parents sometimes choose a Catholic education for their child because they value our approach to educating their whole child – mind, body and spirit. We use the Institute of Catholic Education’s graduate expectations to articulate the hope we have in your child. We believe your child should thrive in the classroom, out in the world, and their character.