Policy/Program Memoranda No. 132

Date of Issue: May 7, 2003

Effective: Until revoked or modified

Subject: PRIOR LEARNING ASSESSMENT AND RECOGNITION (PLAR) FOR MATURE STUDENTS: IMPLEMENTATION IN ONTARIO SECONDARY SCHOOLS

Application: Directors of Education
Secretaries of School Authorities
Principals of Secondary Schools
Principals of Provincial and Demonstration Schools
Principals of Inspected Private Schools
Principal of the Independent Learning Centre


Introduction

This memorandum provides direction to school boards1 and schools concerning the implementation of Ontario Secondary Schools, Grades 9 to 12: Program and Diploma Requirements, 1999 (OSS), section 6.6: Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition, for mature students2 who are enrolled in Ontario secondary schools, including Provincial Schools, Demonstration Schools, the Independent Learning Centre, and inspected private schools that choose to implement Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR).

Beginning on February 1, 2004, the new PLAR requirements set out in this memorandum will come into effect, and will apply to the following two groups of mature students:

  1. mature students who are new to the Ontario secondary school system as of February 1, 2004, and who are working towards the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) under OSS diploma requirements

  2. mature students who were enrolled as regular day school students in the Ontario secondary school system, and were placed in Grade 9 in 1999-2000 or later, Grade 10 in 2000-2001 or later, Grade 11 in 2001-02 or later, or Grade 12 in 2002-03 or later; and who return to school as mature students on February 1, 2004, or later to work towards the OSSD under OSS diploma requirements

The following groups of mature students may be granted equivalent credits under Ontario Schools, Intermediate and Senior Divisions (Grades 7-12/OACs): Program and Diploma Requirements, 1989, rev. ed. (OSIS), section 6.14: Equivalent Standing for Mature Students:

  1. mature students who were enrolled previously in the Ontario secondary school system, and were placed in Grade 9 before 1999-2000, Grade 10 before 2000-2001, Grade 11 before 2001-02, or Grade 12 before 2002-03; and who are working towards the OSSD under OSIS diploma requirements; OR mature students who were enrolled previously in the Ontario secondary school system and who are working towards the Secondary School Graduation Diploma (SSGD) under Circular H.S.1, 1979-81

  2. mature students who were new to the Ontario secondary school system, and were enrolled as mature students in the Ontario secondary school system before February 1, 2004; who were placed in Grade 9 in 1999-2000 or later, Grade 10 in 2000-2001 or later, Grade 11 in 2001-02 or later, or Grade 12 in 2002-03 or later; and who are working towards the OSSD under OSS diploma requirements

Note: The principal is responsible for determining whether the mature student was previously enrolled in the Ontario secondary school system (under OSS, OSIS, or Circular H.S.1, 1979-81) on the basis of written evidence of previous enrolment (e.g., an Ontario secondary school report card, an Ontario Student Transcript).

If, upon returning to the Ontario secondary school system, mature students in groups 3 and 4 choose to have their prior learning assessed and credits granted through the PLAR process under OSS, such students will be required to meet OSS diploma requirements. For details on diploma requirements, see OSS, OSIS, and appendix 1 to this memorandum.

This memorandum sets out the PLAR process under OSS unless otherwise noted.

The prior learning assessment and recognition process

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) is the formal evaluation and credit-granting process whereby students may obtain credits for prior learning. Prior learning includes the knowledge and skills that students have acquired, in both formal and informal ways, outside secondary school. Students may have their knowledge and skills evaluated against the expectations outlined in provincial curriculum policy documents in order to earn credits towards the secondary school diploma. The PLAR process for mature students involves two components: "equivalency" and "challenge". Requirements concerning the application of these procedures differ from those for regular day school students because of the broader life experience of mature students.

The "equivalency" process for mature students involves (1) individual assessment3 for the purpose of granting Grade 9 or 10 credits, and/or (2) assessment of credentials and other appropriate documentation from jurisdictions within and outside Ontario for the purpose of granting credit for a Grade 11 or 12 course developed from an Ontario curriculum policy document published in 2000 or later.

The "challenge" process for mature students is the process whereby students' prior learning is assessed for the purpose of granting credit for a Grade 11 or 12 course developed from an Ontario curriculum policy document published in 2000 or later.

From February 1, 2004, until the end of the 2003-04 school year, credits may be granted through the PLAR equivalency process to students working towards the OSSD under OSIS for specific Grade 12 courses and Ontario Academic Courses (OACs) selected from among the limited number of courses under OSIS that boards may offer. Until the end of the 2003-04 school year, credits may be granted through the PLAR challenge process to students working towards the OSSD under OSIS for such Grade 12 courses and OACs.

All boards are responsible for developing and implementing PLAR policies and procedures for mature students that are consistent with provincial policy (OSS, sections 6.6 and 8.2).

All credits granted through the PLAR process – that is, through either the challenge process or the equivalency process – must represent the same standards of achievement as credits granted to students who have taken the courses.

As stated in OSS, section 6.6, principals will determine the number of credits, including compulsory credits, that a mature student needs in order to meet diploma requirements. Up to 16 Grade 9 and 10 credits may be granted to a mature student through the equivalency process at the discretion of the principal, following individual assessment. Mature students may earn 10 of the 14 remaining Grade 11 and 12 credits needed to meet diploma requirements in three ways: (1) they may demonstrate achievement of the required secondary school curriculum expectations and receive credit through the challenge process; (2) they may present education and/or training credentials and/or other appropriate documentation for assessment through the equivalency process; or (3) they may take the course. Mature students will earn a minimum of 4 Grade 11 and 12 credits by taking the necessary courses at a secondary school, through correspondence, or through any of the alternative ways described in section 6.8 of OSS. Mature students who have previously accumulated 26 or more credits towards the diploma must successfully complete the required number of courses to bring their total number of credits up to 30 before they will be eligible to receive the OSSD.

Boards, with the exception of inspected private schools that choose to implement PLAR, will not charge mature students fees for undergoing the challenge or equivalency process. Ontario Regulation 285 (Continuing Education) under the Education Act does not permit publicly funded school boards to charge fees for continuing education credit courses.

This memorandum contains direction to boards and schools concerning both the equivalency process and the challenge process.

Responsibilities of boards

All boards must develop and implement policies and procedures related to the challenge and equivalency processes that are consistent with provincial policy (OSS, sections 6.6 and 8.2). It should be noted that appendix 8 to OSS relates only to regular day school students. All boards must implement these policies and procedures for mature students beginning on February 1, 2004. Inspected private schools that choose to implement PLAR for mature students, however, may implement these policies and procedures on February 1, 2004, or at any time following February 1, 2004.

Boards must also ensure that a clear statement is published in the school course calendars outlining (1) when mature students may undergo individual assessment for the purpose of obtaining Grade 9 and 10 credits, (2) when they may present education and training credentials and/or other appropriate documentation for assessment through the equivalency process for the purpose of obtaining Grade 11 and 12 credits, (3) when they may challenge for credit for Grade 11 and 12 courses, and (4) what opportunities for challenge are available at schools under the jurisdiction of the board (OSS, section 5.3.1). Boards will determine the time frame for the completion of the challenge and equivalency processes for specific Grade 11 and 12 credit courses.

It should be noted that a board is not obliged to provide opportunities for mature students to challenge for credit for courses based on provincial curriculum policy documents that are not actually taught in schools operated by the board. Such a board may make arrangements with other boards to provide opportunities for eligible students to challenge for credit for courses that are not offered by the board.

For consistency across the province, boards must use the forms provided under "Required Forms" in appendix 2 to this memorandum for recording results for mature students. No changes of any kind may be made to these forms. See also the section "Record Keeping" in this memorandum.

Boards may use the sample forms provided in appendix 2 for applications and/or for recording assessment of challenge for credit for a course, or they may develop their own. Any forms developed by boards, however, must include, at a minimum, what is on the sample forms.

Boards will report to the ministry in the October Board Reports the types and extent of PLAR assessment services provided to mature students. Boards will also report the types and extent of PLAR assessment services delivered during the fiscal year on their ministry financial reporting forms (i.e., estimates, revised estimates, and financial statements). Boards will report the following:

  • the number of mature students who received an individual assessment for up to 16 Grade 9 and 10 credits during the school year (one assessment per mature student per fiscal year only)
  • the number of mature students who received an equivalency assessment for up to 10 Grade 11 and 12 credits during the school year (one assessment per mature student per fiscal year only)
  • the number of completed challenges for credit for Grade 11 and 12 courses (up to 10 full-credit courses per student, or the equivalent in half-credit courses), whether successfully or unsuccessfully completed

Responsibilities of school principals

PLAR procedures for mature students will be carried out under the direction of the school principal4, who grants credits. The principal is responsible for the implementation of PLAR in accordance with section 6.6 of OSS and this memorandum. Principals should note that appendix 8: Equivalent Diploma Requirements in OSS applies only to regular day school students, not to mature students.

Principals will ensure that mature students who do not have appropriate documentation of prior learning owing to extraordinary circumstances (e.g., students who are refugees) will receive advice concerning the gathering and giving of evidence.

Equivalency Process

Grade 9 and 10 credits

The principal will:

Grade 11 and 12 credits

The principal will:

  • ensure that mature students are informed that they are responsible for initiating the equivalency process for the purpose of obtaining Grade 11 and 12 credits, and for satisfying all of the requirements;
  • ensure that every prospective applicant is informed about policies and procedures related to the equivalency process for mature students, including policies on and procedures for recording Grade 11 and 12 results in the OSR and on the OST (see under "Record Keeping" in this memorandum);
  • ensure that every prospective applicant is provided with an application form for the equivalency process for mature students (see the form in appendix 2 to this memorandum), as well as materials that indicate what is expected in the Grade 11 and 12 courses (i.e., the curriculum expectations) for which the student wishes to be granted credits;
  • evaluate each application in consultation with the student and appropriate school staff (i.e., subject teachers) to determine whether the student should begin the equivalency process;
  • determine whether there is a direct relationship between the credentials and/or other appropriate documentation presented by the student and the curriculum expectations for a specific Grade 11 or 12 course in one of the Ontario curriculum policy documents published in 2000 or later;
  • determine whether equivalency should be granted for a specific full- or half-credit course;
  • record any Grade 11 and 12 credits granted on the appropriate form (see "Record Keeping" and appendix 2).

Challenge Process

The principal will:

  • ensure that mature students are informed that they are responsible for initiating the challenge process for the purpose of obtaining Grade 11 and 12 credits, and for satisfying all of the requirements;
  • ensure that every prospective applicant is informed about policies and procedures related to challenging for credit, including policies on and procedures for recording results in the OSR and on the OST (see under "Record Keeping" in this memorandum);
  • ensure that every prospective applicant is provided with an application form (see the form in appendix 2 to this memorandum), as well as materials that indicate what is expected in the Grade 11 and 12 courses (i.e., the curriculum expectations) for which the student wishes to challenge for credit;
  • evaluate each application in consultation with the student and appropriate school staff (i.e., subject teachers) to determine whether reasonable evidence for success exists and whether the challenge should occur;
  • determine whether the student should challenge for credit for a specific full- or half-credit course;
  • develop formal tests and other assessment strategies;
  • conduct the testing (i.e., the use of formal tests and of other appropriate assessment strategies);
  • evaluate and report on the student's performance.

Principals of schools operated by boards – with the exception of inspected private schools that choose to implement PLAR – must ensure that only teachers certified by the Ontario College of Teachers conduct the PLAR challenge process.

Policies governing the equivalency process

Grade 9 and 10 Credits

As stated previously, up to 16 Grade 9 and 10 credits may be granted to a mature student at the discretion of the principal following individual assessment. These Grade 9 and 10 credits must meet the diploma requirements that would usually be met through successful completion of the Grade 9 and 10 program.

Each mature student who does not have transcripts indicating successful completion of the first two years of secondary school in the Ontario education system – or in an education system outside Ontario or Canada that is comparable to the Ontario system – will be required to successfully complete an individual assessment before being granted any Grade 9 and 10 credits. This will consist of assessment in English, mathematics, science, and Canadian history and Canadian geography. The principal may grant up to 4 Grade 9 and 10 credits for demonstrated achievement in each of these 4 subject areas. If the principal grants fewer than 4 credits for any of these subject areas, he or she will determine how the student will obtain the remaining credits.

Each mature student who has evidence of partial completion of the first two years of secondary school in the Ontario education system – or in an education system outside Ontario or Canada that is comparable to the Ontario system – will be required to successfully complete an individual assessment in English, mathematics, science, and Canadian history and Canadian geography in order to earn the credits required to bring the total up to 16 Grade 9 and 10 credits.

The principal has the authority to defer assessment on Grade 9 and 10 Canadian geography and Canadian history until the student has had sufficient time to develop language skills at a Grade 11 or 12 level and, for students new to Canada, to become more familiar with Canadian culture. Before granting an OSSD, however, the principal will ensure that the student has successfully completed the assessment on Grade 9 and 10 Canadian geography and history.

The principal may grant, at his or her discretion, the Ontario Secondary School Certificate (OSSC) to a mature student following an individual assessment, if the student, in the principal's judgement, has met the requirements for the OSSC, as specified in OSS, section 3.3: The Ontario Secondary School Certificate. Note that, whereas the OSSC may only be granted to regular day school students who have met OSSC requirements and are leaving school before earning the OSSD, the OSSC may be granted to mature students who have met OSSC requirements and are also planning to earn the OSSD in the future.

Grade 11 and 12 Credits

It is recommended that principals delay assigning Grade 11 and 12 equivalent credits until mature students have met the PLAR requirement of taking and successfully completing 4 Grade 11 and 12 courses.

The following types of credentials and other documentation may be accepted for the purpose of determining whether to grant Grade 11 and 12 equivalent credits:

  • formal transcripts issued by a recognized educational or training institution or a government ministry in Ontario or outside Ontario (e.g., a secondary school, a provincial college of applied arts and technology, a university, a ministry of education or training)
  • Certificates of Apprenticeship and Certificates of Qualification for apprenticeships granted by or recognized by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities
  • other appropriate documentation of learning gained from other programs, courses, or work experiences

In all these cases, the principal is responsible for ensuring that equivalent credits are granted to mature students only if their transcripts or other documents show evidence of learning that relates directly to the Ontario curriculum expectations for specific courses.

Principals may grant half-credits to mature students through the equivalency process if the documented prior learning relates directly to the Ontario curriculum expectations for specific half-credit courses. See the policy on half-credit courses on pages 6 and 7 of The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 to 12: Program Planning and Assessment, 2000. This policy on half-credit courses now also applies to courses that are part of adult education programs – i.e., half-credit courses may also be developed for mature students, in accordance with the existing policy.

Policies governing the challenge process

Grade 11 and 12 Credits

The challenge process is an evaluation process. It may not be used as a way for students to improve their mark in a course for which they have already earned a credit, nor as a way to obtain a credit for a course they have previously failed.

Mature students may challenge for credit for up to 10 Grade 11 and 12 courses in provincial curriculum policy documents. However, they may obtain no more than 10 Grade 11 and 12 credits through the challenge and equivalency processes combined. There is no maximum on the number of credits that may be obtained in any one discipline.5 (See OSS, section 6.6.)

Mature students may challenge for credit for a course only if they can provide reasonable evidence to the principal that they would be likely to be successful in the challenge process, in accordance with criteria established by the ministry in OSS, section 6.6, and in this memorandum, and with policies and procedures established by the board. In cases where a mature student disagrees with the decision of the principal about whether or not the student should challenge for credit, the mature student may ask the appropriate supervisory officer to review the matter.

Mature students may use certificates or other records of accomplishment earned outside Ontario classrooms as reasonable evidence of eligibility to challenge for credit for a related course within the Ontario curriculum, if they wish to earn credit for the course without taking the course. Students with music certificates that are accepted for credits in OSS, appendix 4: Music Certificates Accepted for Credits, however, are not required to challenge for credit for the appropriate music courses, but are granted credits in accordance with appendix 4 and section 6.8.6.

A mature student must challenge for credit for an entire course, whether it is a full-credit or a partial-credit course.

Credit will be granted only for the specific course for which the student has successfully challenged for credit.

Principals may grant half-credits to mature students who successfully challenge for credit for specific half-credit courses. See the policy on half-credit courses on pages 6 and 7 of The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 9 to 12: Program Planning and Assessment, 2000. This policy on half-credit courses now applies to courses that are part of adult education programs – i.e., half-credit courses may also be developed for mature students, in accordance with the existing policy.

A student cannot be granted credits through the challenge process for any of the following courses:

  • a course previously failed
  • a course for which the student has already earned a credit but for which he or she wishes to improve the mark
  • a course in any subject if a credit has already been granted for a course in that subject in a later grade
  • a course for which there is significant overlap with a course for which credit has been granted
  • a transfer course
  • a locally developed course
  • a cooperative education course
  • a course in English as a second language (ESL), English literacy development (ELD), or Anglais pour débutants (APD), if the student has one or more credits in English from the curriculum policy documents for English for Grades 9 to 12 under OSS (i.e., the documents for English-language schools or the documents for French-language schools) or from the curriculum guidelines for English or Anglais/English for Grades 9 to 12/OACs under OSIS
  • a course in French as a second language (FSL), Actualisation linguistique en français (ALF), or Perfectionnement du français (PDF), if the student has one or more credits in Français from the curriculum policy documents for Français for Grades 9 to 12 under OSS or the curriculum guideline for Français for Grades 9 to 12/OACs under OSIS
  • the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course

A student will be permitted to challenge for credit for a specific course a second time after a reasonable interval, if the student can provide reasonable evidence to the principal that he or she is likely to be successful after having benefited from additional study and experience during the interval.

Mature students' requests to challenge for credit will be entered in their annual education plans as part of their plans for fulfilling their educational goals.

Assessment and evaluation

Assessment and evaluation through the PLAR process will be based on the curriculum expectations and the achievement charts in the Ontario curriculum policy documents. Assessment and evaluation must be based on all the strands in a course and on all categories of knowledge and skills and the descriptions of achievement levels given in the achievement chart that appears in the curriculum policy document for the discipline. A student's level of achievement will be recorded as a percentage grade on the OST in the same way as achievement in other courses.

Assessment and evaluation strategies for the challenge process must include formal tests (70 per cent of the final mark) and a variety of other assessment strategies appropriate for the particular course (30 per cent of the final mark). The formal tests must have a balance between written work and practical demonstration that is appropriate for the subject/discipline. Other assessment strategies may include evaluation of written assignments, demonstrations/performances, laboratory work, and quizzes, and observation of student work. The principal is responsible for developing and administering the formal tests and for determining which assessment strategies are most appropriate for each course for which a student is challenging for credit.

Record keeping

Boards will ensure that the appropriate PLAR "Cumulative Tracking Record" forms for mature students, which are provided in appendix 2, are maintained and included in the student's OSR. These forms are intended to track the number of credits that a mature student has obtained through the equivalency and challenge processes and the disciplines in which these credits have been obtained, as well as failures and withdrawals.

PLAR "Interim Tracking Record" forms for mature students, which are also provided in appendix 2, will be maintained for credits obtained through the equivalency and challenge processes in a school outside the student's regular school (the regular school is the school that maintains the student's OSR). The principal of the school outside the student's regular school will use the "Interim Tracking Record" forms to communicate the student's results to the school that maintains the OSR. The principal of the student's regular school will enter this information onto the "Cumulative Tracking Record" form in the student's OSR. Only the "Cumulative Tracking Record" form will be maintained in the student's OSR. (If it is necessary to use more than one "Cumulative Tracking Record" form to record a student's results in the equivalency process or attempts to challenge for credit, the additional form(s) should be attached to the original form.)

Equivalency Process

Grade 9 and 10 credits

Principals will ensure that the results of a mature student's individual assessment are recorded on the "Cumulative Tracking Record" form and, if required, on the "Interim Tracking Record" form for Grade 9 and 10 credits. Up to 4 credits for each of English, mathematics, science, and Canadian history and Canadian geography will be entered on the appropriate form.

Entries on the student's OST must be made in accordance with The Ontario Student Transcript (OST): Manual, 1999. The following information must be entered on the OST:

  • the equivalent credits granted for Grades 9 and 10, entered as one total
  • the notation "Equivalent Credits" in the "Course Title" column, and the code "PLE" in the "Course Code" column
  • the total number of equivalent credits (up to 16) in the "Credit" column
  • the total number of compulsory credits granted as equivalent credits (up to 14 compulsory credits for mature students working under OSS diploma requirements)

Grade 11 and 12 credits

Principals will ensure that equivalent credits for mature students are recorded on the "Cumulative Tracking Record" form and, if required, on the "Interim Tracking Record" form for Grade 11 and 12 credits. The appropriate value for individual credits granted or earned must be entered on the tracking record forms.

Entries on the student's OST must be made in accordance with The Ontario Student Transcript (OST): Manual, 1999. Beginning February 1, 2004, the following information must be entered on a mature student's OST, in accordance with Procedure 2 in the OST manual:

  • the appropriate course codes for equivalent credits granted for all Grade 11 and 12 courses through the equivalency process
  • the code "EQV" in the "Percentage Grade" column
  • the appropriate value for individual credits granted or earned in the "Credit" column
  • an "X" in the "Compulsory" column for each compulsory credit granted

The only mature students to whom these new PLAR requirements do not apply are students in groups 3 and 4. Principals will follow Procedure 1 in The Ontario Student Transcript (OST): Manual, 1999 for recording equivalent credits granted to these students. However, if any of these students choose to have their prior learning assessed and credits granted through the PLAR process under OSS and therefore to meet the requirements for the OSSD under OSS, records for these students must be kept in accordance with the new PLAR requirements described above and outlined in The Ontario Student Transcript (OST): Manual, 1999 as Procedure 2.

Challenge Process

Principals will ensure that the following entries are made on a mature student's "Cumulative Tracking Record" form and "Interim Tracking Record" form, as applicable:

  • For challenges for credit for Grade 11 or 12 courses, the student's passing percentage grade, failing percentage grade, or withdrawal from the challenge process must be entered on the appropriate tracking record form(s).

The following entries must be made on the mature student's OST:

  • For challenges for credit for Grade 11 and 12 courses, passing and failing percentage grades will be entered on the student's OST. No notation will be entered on the OST if the student withdraws from the challenge process. See The Ontario Student Transcript (OST): Manual, 1999, pages 12 and 13, for additional information.

Appendix 1: Diploma requirements for mature students

Mature students in Ontario secondary schools will continue to work towards their diploma in accordance with the requirements in effect when they first enrolled in the Ontario secondary school system. Students may work towards the following diplomas:

  • OSSD under OSS, for students who entered the Ontario secondary school system and were placed in Grade 9 in 1999-2000 or later, Grade 10 in 2000-2001 or later, Grade 11 in 2001-02 or later, or Grade 12 in 2002-03 or later
  • OSSD under OSIS, for students who entered the Ontario secondary school system and were placed in Grade 9 before 1999-2000, Grade 10 before 2000-2001, Grade 11 before 2001-02, or Grade 12 before 2002-03
  • SSGD under Circular H.S.1, 1979-81 for students who entered an Ontario secondary school program before September 1, 1984

If, however, upon returning to the Ontario secondary school system, mature students in groups 3 and 4 choose to have their prior learning assessed and credits granted through the PLAR process under OSS, such students will be required to meet OSS diploma requirements.

OSSD Under OSS Diploma Requirements

Note that appendix 8: Equivalent Diploma Requirements in OSS applies only to regular day school students. The requirements for mature students are outlined in OSS in section 6.6.

If a mature student who is working towards the OSSD under OSS diploma requirements has not already successfully completed each of the 4 Grade 11 and 12 compulsory credit requirements, he or she is required to complete each of these diploma requirements, as follows.

English, Grade 11 and 12

To obtain a Grade 11 credit in English that meets the compulsory credit requirement, a mature student must successfully complete English, Grade 11, College Preparation (ENG3C) or English, Grade 11, Workplace Preparation (ENG3E) or English, Grade 11, University Preparation (ENG3U); or challenge for credit for one of the above Grade 11 English courses successfully; or provide a formal transcript so that the principal can determine whether an equivalent credit can be granted for one of these three Grade 11 English courses. No substitution is permitted.

To obtain a Grade 12 credit in English that meets the compulsory credit requirement, a mature student must successfully complete English, Grade 12, College Preparation (ENG4C) or English, Grade 12, Workplace Preparation (ENG4E) or English, Grade 12, University Preparation (ENG4U). The student must take the course. No substitution is permitted.

Note: If a mature student takes and successfully completes ESL 4 or 5 to meet one English compulsory credit requirement, he or she must also successfully complete one of the Grade 11 or 12 English courses listed above. The student must take the Grade 11 or 12 English course. No substitution is permitted.

Mathematics, Grade 11 or 12

To obtain a Grade 11 or 12 credit in mathematics that meets the compulsory credit requirement, a mature student must successfully complete the course, challenge successfully for credit for the course, or provide a formal transcript so that the principal can determine whether an equivalent credit can be granted for the course.

Note: Instead of taking the Grade 11 or 12 mathematics course, a mature student may ask to be allowed to substitute any Grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 course that is from one of the Ontario curriculum policy documents published in 1999 or later and that meets a compulsory credit requirement for the OSSD.

Science, Grade 11 or 12, OR Technological Education, Grade 9, 10, 11, or 12

To obtain a Grade 11 or 12 credit in science or a Grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 credit in technological education that meets the compulsory credit requirement, a mature student must (1) successfully complete the course, (2) challenge successfully for credit for the course, or (3) provide a formal transcript so that the principal can determine whether an equivalent credit can be granted for a Grade 11 or 12 science course or for a technological education course in Grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 that is in one of the Ontario curriculum policy documents published in 1999 or later and that meets a compulsory credit requirement for the OSSD.

Note: Instead of taking the science or technology education course, a mature student may ask to be allowed to substitute any Grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 course that is from one of the Ontario curriculum policy documents published in 1999 or later and that meets a compulsory credit requirement for the OSSD.

Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test

Mature students working towards the OSSD under OSS diploma requirements must also satisfy the diploma requirement with regard to successful completion of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. A mature student who has failed the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test and has had two opportunities to take the test may take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course. If the student successfully completes the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course, he or she will have met the diploma requirement for successful completion of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test.

Community Involvement Activities

Principals will determine the number of hours of community involvement activities that a mature student who is working towards the OSSD under OSS diploma requirements will have to complete.

OSSD Under OSIS Diploma Requirements

Principals will continue to determine which compulsory credit requirements (if any) must still be completed by a mature student to earn the OSSD under OSIS diploma requirements. The principal will refer to OSIS, sections 4.10 and 6.14, and use appendix D of OSIS at his or her discretion, provided that the requirements outlined in appendix D have been met.

Secondary School Graduation Diploma (SSGD)

A mature student who entered an Ontario secondary school program before September 1, 1984, will continue to work towards the SSGD. The process for assessing equivalent credit allowances and granting credits that is described in OSIS will apply to mature students working towards the SSGD.


Chart 1

This chart shows which diploma requirements apply to mature students – that is, requirements given in OSS, OSIS, and Circular H.S.1, 1979-81.

Diploma requirements for mature students
OSS OSIS Circular H.S.1

OSS diploma requirements apply to mature students who were enrolled for the first time in an Ontario secondary school program and placed in:

  • Grade 9 in 1999-2000 or later
  • Grade 10 in 2000-2001 or later
  • Grade 11 in 2001-02 or later
  • Grade 12 in 2002-03 or later

OSIS diploma requirements apply to mature students who were enrolled in an Ontario secondary school program and placed in:

  • Grade 9 before 1999-2000
  • Grade 10 before 2000-2001
  • Grade 11 before 2001-02
  • Grade 12 before 2002-03
Diploma requirements in Circular H.S.1 for the SSGD apply to mature students who were enrolled in an Ontario secondary school program before September 1, 1984.

Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of Chart 1. (PDF, 26 K)


Chart 2

This chart shows which assessment process – PLAR under OSS or "equivalent standing" under OSIS – must be used for each of the four groups of mature students described in the introduction section of this memorandum.


Assessment processes for mature students
PLAR Process Under OSS Process Under OSIS

Group 1 students

OSS section 6.6: Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition policy and OSS diploma requirements apply to mature students who enrolled for the first time in the Ontario secondary school system and who were placed in Grade 9, 10, 11, or 12 on or after February 1, 2004.

Group 3 students

OSIS section 6.14: Equivalent Standing for Mature Students policy and OSIS diploma requirements apply to mature students who were enrolled previously in the Ontario secondary school system and who were placed in:

  • Grade 9 before 1999-2000
  • Grade 10 before 2000-2001
  • Grade 11 before 2001-02
  • Grade 12 before 2002-03

OSIS section 6.14: Equivalent Standing for Mature Students policy and SSGD requirements under Circular H.S.1, 1979-81 apply to mature students who were enrolled in the Ontario secondary school system before September 1, 1984.

Group 2 students

OSS section 6.6: Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition policy and OSS diploma requirements apply to mature students who were enrolled as regular day school students in the Ontario secondary school system and who were placed in:

  • Grade 9 in 1999-2000 or later
  • Grade 10 in 2000-2001 or later
  • Grade 11 in 2001-02 or later
  • Grade 12 in 2002-03 or later

OSS PLAR policy applies to those in this group who return to the Ontario secondary school system as mature students on or after February 1, 2004.

Group 4 students

OSIS section 6.14: Equivalent Standing for Mature Students policy and OSS diploma requirements apply to mature students who were new to the Ontario secondary school system and who were enrolled as mature students in the Ontario secondary school system before February 1, 2004, and who were placed in:

  • Grade 9 in 1999-2000 or later
  • Grade 10 in 2000-2001 or later
  • Grade 11 in 2001-02 or later
  • Grade 12 in 2002-03 or later

Note: Mature students to whom the OSIS process applies may choose to have their prior learning assessed and credits granted according to OSS PLAR requirements. Such students will be required to meet OSS diploma requirements.

Adobe Acrobat (PDF) version of Chart 2. (PDF, 33 KB)


Appendix 2: PLAR forms for mature students

The forms listed below are provided as Adobe Acrobat files.

Required Forms

Sample Forms


1Unless otherwise specified, the term board(s) in this memorandum refers to district school boards, school authorities, Provincial and Demonstration Schools, the Independent Learning Centre, and inspected private schools that choose to implement PLAR

2A mature student is a student who is at least eighteen years of age (i.e., an adult) on or before December 31 of the school year in which he or she returns to school, who was not enrolled in a day school program for a period of at least one year, and who is enrolled in a secondary school program for the purpose of obtaining an OSSD.

3An individual assessment includes all assessment activities related to the granting of up to 16 Grade 9 and 10 credits to any one mature student in any one school year.

4For the purposes of this memorandum, the principal of an inspected private school that chooses to implement PLAR is the person who has responsibility for the daily operation of the school.

5The term discipline refers to the subject area covered by any one curriculum policy document. All courses in that document are considered to belong to that discipline.