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Catholic Education Centre
459 Victoria Avenue West
Thunder Bay, ON. P7C 0A4
Phone: (807) 625-1555
Fax: (807) 623-0431

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School Reform

Secondary School

The Ministry of Education and Training's new four-year high school program was phased in starting with the students in Grade 9 in September, 1999. Students in Grade 7 and 8 in 1998-99 were prepared for the new high school program by the requirements of the new elementary school curriculum.

The new high school program increased emphasis on student skills in mathematics, language and sciences while promoting responsible citizenship.

There has been a return to streaming in Grade 9, though it is a new approach that gives students the flexibility to move between streams, particularly in Grades 9 and 10.

Were provisions made to ensure a Catholic focus in our high schools?

YES. The Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board recognizes the necessity of maintaining the Christian vision of our Catholic schools in light of the reforms. Distinctive expectations have been developed for the graduates of our Catholic high schools. In addition to the Ministry-mandated courses, students are required to take a religious education/family life credit in each of the four years of their high school program. The Religious Education/Family Life credit compliments the Christian values already infused into the total curriculum and the very life of our Catholic high schools.

What are the new Diploma Requirements?

Students are required to complete 30 credits of 110 hours each to obtain a high school diploma. Eighteen of these credits are compulsory, two more than was previously the case.

The 18 compulsory credits are:

  • 4 English (one credit per grade)
  • 1 French as a Second Language
  • 3 Mathematics (at least one in Gr. 11 or 12)
  • 2 Science
  • 1 of Gr. 11 or 12 Science or Gr. 9-12 Technology
  • 1 Canadian History
  • 1 Canadian Geography
  • 1 Arts
  • 1 Physical and Health Education
  • 1 of English/français, a third language, Social Science or Canadian and World Studies
  • 1 Civics and Career Studies
  • 1 of Physical and Health Education, music, Art, Drama, Dance or Business/Entrepreneurial Studies

As well, all students are required to complete a minimum of 40 hours of community involvement prior to graduation. Students are also required to pass a literacy test which focuses on reading and writing in order to graduate.

What does Community Involvement entail?

Volunteering in our communities has always been a Canadian way of life, and many students and schools were already involved in excellent volunteer work. The Ministry wants to encourage civic responsibility and promote community values through this activity. Our Catholic high schools, through their Christian outreach and Social Justice Programs, already had students involved in the life of the community. These programs encourage students to respond as Christian disciples to the needs of the community. They promote the living out of the gospel values taught in the school curriculum. The programs are well designed with clear expectations and reporting processes. They are well suited to fulfill the Ministry requirement for Community Involvement.

When will the High School Literacy Test be administered?

The high school literacy test will be conducted before the end of Grade 10 to provide time for remediation and further testing for students who do not meet the provincial standard. The test will be based on the provincial curriculum for Grade 9 English.

Will provisions be made for special needs students taking the literacy test?

YES. There will be Ministry policies and guidelines to accommodate special needs students regarding the high school literacy test.

How are courses streamed?

In Grades 9 and 10, core courses are streamed as academic with a focus on theory, or applied with an emphasis on applications. Students in Grade 9 are not locked into a stream. They are able to switch to the other stream in Grade 10 if they wish.

In Grades 11 and 12, courses will be streamed according to the student’s chosen destination, whether university, college, work or apprenticeship training.

In Grades 11 and 12, transfer courses will be available to allow students to switch to another stream.

Will supports be in place to assist students in making appropriate decisions?

YES. To help students make decisions about high school courses related to future goals, our schools will be implementing a teacher-advisor system for students in Grades 7 to 12. The teacher-advisor will monitor a student’s academic progress and will be a key school contact for parents. All students from grade 7 to 12 will also receive assistance with completing a mandatory annual education plan. This plan will allow students the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills required for education and career planning and decision making.

Have any changes been made to the way in which a student’s academic achievement is recorded?

YES. In addition to recording all the credits earned for graduation on the Ontario Student Transcript (OST), a record of the student’s community involvement diploma requirements and the student’s successful achievement on the Secondary School Literacy Test must be indicated. As of September, 1, 1999, full disclosure came into effect. This means that in addition to the percentage grades for successfully completed Grade 9 and 10 courses, all attempts (pass or fail) of Grade 11 and 12/OAC courses will be recorded on the student’s O.S.T.

What is the Ministry doing to prepare for the double graduating class in 2003?

Ministry staff are working with the Council of Ontario Universities and other parties to deal with the anticipated influx of post secondary students in 2003. The government has said that it is prepared to invest savings resulting from the move to a four-year secondary school program into strategies to address pressures relating to the double cohort (the last OAC graduates and the first Grade 12 graduates under the new program). The Ministry is committed to maintaining fair access to the post secondary system for all qualified high school graduates.

What is the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board doing to implement Secondary School Reform?

A System-Level Implementation Committee has been established to coordinate the policy and programs associated with Secondary School Reform. An Action Plan has been developed and administrators and teachers are receiving inservicing and information updates regarding the new diploma requirements, curriculum policy documents and the new assessment and reporting procedures for secondary schools.

Further Information:

Please contact:

Bob McEwan,
Coordinator of Secondary Programs
Tel. (807)625-1576

Visit Education and Training Secondary School Reform Site



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