Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB)

International Student Program (ISP) – Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) Graduation Program

When students enter into an OSSD Program with the Upper Canada District School Board, they must declare their intention for post-secondary studies – either College, or University.  This is required so that we can plan for a student’s academic pathway and put them in a position to reach their goals.  On the student’s application, she/he must indicate intentions to either study in post-secondary at the College, or University level.

Details for the two options are as follows:

  • College preparation courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for college programs. Teaching and learning will emphasize concrete applications of the theoretical material covered in the course, and will also emphasize the development of critical-thinking and problem-solving. College preparation courses do not qualify a student to attend University.
  • University preparation courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for university programs. Teaching and learning will emphasize theoretical aspects of the course content, but will also include concrete applications. A student could still be eligible to attend many College programs, with the completion of University preparation courses.

Post-secondary destination will ultimately be determined by the graduating student’s academic results. These results will include the courses completed, grades achieved and other factors as set forth in the admission considerations of each post-secondary institution and program.  If a student chooses to focus on College preparation courses during secondary school studies with the UCDSB, there is still a path to attaining a University degree.  Students completing a two year College diploma may have the option to then transfer into University degree studies. Equivalent credits for their studies at the College level may be granted by the accepting university and will then be put towards a university degree where applicable.  For more information on these types of College-to-University pathway programs, please consult the websites and registrar offices of the post-secondary institutions and programs of interest.

Basic Graduation Requirements

  • 30 credits (18 compulsory credits, 12 optional or elective credits)
  • A senior compulsory English credit at the grade 12 level (ENG4C or ENG4U)
  • Successful completion of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test or the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course
  • 10 hours of community involvement for every year that the student is enrolled with the UCDSB.

Each student will be awarded credits for their previous learning at levels equivalent to secondary school studies at the UCDSB.  Students will be informed of the equivalent credits that will be recognized upon arrival to their home school in the UCDSB.  An estimate can be provided upon request, after the student’s transcripts of previous high school studies have been submitted.  A maximum of 8 credits will be considered for equivalency recognition per year of studies at the secondary school level.


Course Selections

International students at the UCDSB take 3 or 4 courses in each semester.  Each student has a unique timetable of courses they will study, based on registration assignments coordinated by the school’s Student Services Department.  The courses assigned are based on the student’s stated preferences, as well as requirements for graduation and eligibility for stated post-secondary study intentions.  This information is provided by the student when applying to study at the UCDSB, through the submission of a completed Student Self Introduction form when entering the International Education Program and through a meeting with a Guidance Counsellor at the school for each subsequent year of study.  Course assignments are also based on the student’s level of ESL (eligibility details), availability at the school, and fit within a student’s timetable.

Students receive their course timetables on the first day of each semester.  Each student’s name and first class for the day is posted near the school’s Main Office.  Students report to their first class for the day, and there they are provided with their course timetables.  To request a timetable change, a student must make an appointment with a Guidance Counsellor at the school’s Student Services office.  Some schools have a policy to not consider or allow timetable changes until 1 or 2 weeks after the semester begins.

It must be noted that course requests cannot be guaranteed and students will not necessarily have the opportunity to register in every course they wish for in a particular semester.  However, it can be assured that each student will have the opportunity to complete the courses required for his/her stated post-secondary destination within the timeline set forth for the student’s study plan.


English as a Second Language (ESL) Levels and Related Study Plans

For international students in a full English immersion academic environment, it is especially important that course placement is appropriate to the student’s English language proficiency levels.  To ensure this, the eligibility for International Students at the UCDSB to enroll in courses according to the level of English proficiency he/she has displayed, relative to the English as a Second Language (ESL) level outlined below.  The five ESL levels noted are province wide levels of proficiency as recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Education.

  • The pre-arrival English language proficiency assessment is conducted by an ESL specialist of the Upper Canada District School Board and considers the results of English proficiency tests, observations, personal interviews with UCDSB ISP staff (when available), and academic history including transcripts and teacher recommendations and observations from the student’s most recent school(s) attended. Note:  if a student’s level of ESL is found to differ from the pre-arrival assessment upon arrival to the UCDSB, adjustments to the student’s study plan will be made and communicated to the student and natural parents by the end of the student’s first semester of studies.
  • The five levels of ESL outlined below are province wide levels of proficiency recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Education. These levels differentiate the ESL curriculum according to the student’s level of English Oral, Reading, Writing and Media skills. A student is assigned to a particular level of ESL based on the competencies they demonstrate.

ESLAO – Beginner

  • Understand, read and retell simple stories
  • Give and respond to straightforward directions and instructions
  • Write assertive, negative and interrogative sentences
  • Write a short structured composition following a model

ESLBO – High Beginner

  • Maintain face-to-face conversations on familiar topics
  • Use short sentences to give opinions
  • Skim a paragraph to find main idea and scan text to find specific information
  • Write simple and compound sentences in answering written questions
  • Write a short composition following a teacher’s outline

ESLCO – Intermediate

  • Take part in conversations on a range of topics
  • Take notes from a passage using a graphic organizer in preparation for writing
  • Identify a writer’s or character’s point of view
  • Use a variety of simple, compound and complex sentences with some accuracy
  • Write short expository paragraphs in response to a reading

ESLDO – High Intermediate

  • Discuss or explain ideas or issues
  • Identify and explain literary elements (theme character, plot and setting)
  • Identify facts and opinions
  • Write a passage of 3 or more paragraphs to develop a central idea

ESLEO – Advanced

  • Express, support and elaborate a point of view
  • Analyze literary elements (themes, character, plot, setting)
  • Infer meaning of unfamiliar words from context
  • Write a coherent response to literature which analyses, interprets, and evaluates information and ideas

Minimum Number of Years of Study for OSSD ProgramNote:  The above is the minimum number of years and it must be noted that many students will require a longer study period to complete the requirements for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma and/or entry into the post-secondary destination of choice.  Completion time for the OSSD Program will ultimately be determined by the graduating student’s academic results while studying at the UCDSB.
Graduation Requirements for Ontario Secondary School Diploma *No more than 2 credits from Groups 1, 2, and 3 can be earned through Co-op Education.**The Ontario Secondary School Literacy test must be written by students in April of Grade 11 year. If a student is unsuccessful, they must take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course in the Grade 12 year.

ESL Level Courses
AO, BO Locally developed, open level workplace and college preparation courses (Excluding ENG3C and ENG2D)
CO College Preparation courses Including all University preparation courses Excluding ENG3U and ENG4U
DO University preparation courses Excluding ENG4U
EO University preparation courses Including ALL English courses
Note:  It is not recommended that students undertake an academic English course in their first semester of study in Canada, regardless of ESL Level on entry.
University Pathway   College Pathway
  Grade of Entry     Grade of Entry
ESL Level On Entrance Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12   ESL Level On Entrance Grade 9 Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12
AO 5 years 4 years 3 years 3 years   AO 4 years 3 years 3 years 3 years
BO 4 years 3 years 3 years 3 years   BO 4 years 3 years 3 years 3 years
CO 4 years 3 years 2 years 2 years   CO 4 years 3 years 2 years 1.5 years
DO 4 years 3 years 2 years 1.5 years   DO 4 years 3 years 2 years 1 year
EO 4 years 3 years 2 years 1 year   EO 4 years 3 years 2 years 1 year
Course Credits Required
English (1 credit in each of Grades 9, 10, 11, and 12. 4
Math (Including one Grade 11 or 12 Math) 3
Science 2
French 1
Canadian Geography 1
Canadian History 1
The Arts (Drama, Visual Arts, Music) 1
Health and Physical 1
Civics 0.5
Career Studies 0.5
Group 1:

An additional credit in English OR an additional credit in French as a second language OR a Native Language credit OR a Classical or an International Language credit OR a Social Sciences and Humanities credit OR a Canada and World Studies credit OR a Guidance and Career Education credit OR a Co-operative Education credit*

Group 2:

An additional credit in Health and Physical Education OR an additional Arts credit OR an additional Business Studies credit OR a Co-operative Education credit*

Group 3:

An additional Science credit (Grade 11 or 12) OR a Technological Education credit (Grades 9 – 12) or a Co-operative Education credit*

Optional Credits              12_______   
Total Credits Required for Graduation 30
Community Involvement 40 hours minimum
Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test** All Grade 11 students must write this test, and must receive a passing score of 75% or successfully complete supplementary course work.