Ontario Introduces New High School Graduation Requirements for a Stronger Ontario Diploma

Suite of reforms will modernize requirements for a secondary school diploma for the first time in 25 years

The Ontario government is modernizing the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) requirements for the first time in 25 years, and launching consultations with parents, job creators, educators and stakeholders on what skills students need to be better prepared for life beyond the classroom through the reintroduction of modernized home economics education.

The province is introducing a suite of reforms to ensure Ontario’s diploma embraces the back-to-basics agenda, including:

  • A new financial literacy graduation requirement to ensure students exit Ontario’s school system with both literacy and practical financial literacy skills.
  • Consulting on important life skills and the return of home economics education.
  • Ensuring new teachers hold basic competency in math. Teacher applicants to the Ontario College of Teachers must pass the Math Proficiency Test beginning in February 2025.
  • For the first time in 13 years, a wholesale revitalization of guidance and career education to support students’ understanding of local labour market needs and pathways to good careers.
  • Up to $14 million in 2024-25 to launch career coaching for Grade 9 and 10 students and to explore new opportunities into STEM and skilled trades.
  • Return of the student exit survey to benchmark success and garner feedback on the impact of reforms with an emphasis on guidance.

“Too many parents, employers and students themselves tell me that students are graduating without sufficient financial literacy and basic life skills,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “As we go back-to-basics in the classroom, we will introduce Ontario’s first financial literacy graduation requirement, along with the return of modernized home economics education. By elevating life skills in the classroom, along with better career education and higher math standards on educators, we are setting up every student for life-long success. Our bottom line: ensuring students graduate with practical learning that leads them to better jobs and bigger paycheques.”

Ontario will be introducing a new financial literacy assessment as a graduation requirement to ensure students have the skills and knowledge to create and manage a household budget, save for a home, learn to invest wisely, and protect themselves from financial fraud. Starting in 2025, students will be required to score 70 per cent or higher to meet the financial literacy graduation requirement in their Grade 10 math course. Furthermore, the province will standardize making EQAO Grade 9 Math scores 10 per cent or more of a student’s final mark, a practice already used by the majority of teachers.

Students will also benefit from modernized career education programming in their schools with more exposure to the skilled trades and priority economic sectors. The government is investing up to $14 million in 2024-25 for career coaching for Grade 9 and 10 students in the publicly funded education system. In partnership with the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, this funding will also provide resources and tools to help at-risk youth, individuals in youth justice facilities, and students in other publicly funded educational settings outside of regular classrooms. Through shared agreements with school boards and other existing structures, this career coaching will help young people succeed and become positive members of their communities.

“All children and youth in Ontario deserve to have the resources and supports they need to succeed and thrive,” said Michael Parsa, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Today’s announcement is an important step as we work to empower youth-at-risk and those involved in the justice system with the tools they need to get their life on the right track. Together, we can help them build a brighter future for themselves and their communities.”

The government is also working with the Ontario College of Teachers to support aspiring guidance counsellors by revising Additional Qualification guidelines. New changes will update guidance counsellor qualifications and impose annual training to deliver meaningful value to students. School boards will be required to provide opportunities for guidance counsellors to keep current on labour market trends and work with local employers to support skilled young people to find career opportunities in the communities where they were raised.

Ontario will begin consultations this fall with parents and experts on what practical life skills students should learn in school to build a strong foundation that sets them up for success. This can include the mandatory inclusion of life skills like nutritious cooking, changing a tire, sewing a button, using first aid, personal responsibility and basic economics, all of which can prove valuable throughout a student’s lifespan. This places an emphasis on personal development, decision-making and intrapersonal skills, all of which are in demand by employers across the economy.

Quick Facts

  • The last major overhaul of the Ontario Secondary School Diploma was in 1999 with the removal of OAC (Grade 13) and introduction of community involvement hours.
  • According to a 2022 Royal Bank of Canada poll, nearly 83 per cent of young Canadians reported needing more information and support on money management, and 68 per cent reported feeling overwhelmed and needed help.
  • Ontario is Making It Easier to Enter Skilled Trades by introducing new policy and legislative measures to attract more young people to the skilled trades, including adding a new apprenticeship pathway and an online job matching platform.
  • The Ontario government has opened grant applications for the Ontario Learn and Stay Grant for the 2024-25 academic year. Postsecondary students who want to pursue a career in nursing, paramedicine or medical lab technology can now apply for the grant.