7. Program Planning
Any person interested in learning more about secondary education at Virtual High School will find the relevant policies set out in Ontario Schools: Kindergarten to Grade 12, Policy and Program Requirements, 2016 (OS) by the Ministry of Education of Ontario to be particularly informative.
Links to all appropriate Ontario Curriculum Documents are made available to parents, guardians, and students within each course. They are also available to the general public from the Ontario Ministry of Education's Curriculum and Resources website. This website provides a modern and interactive way to access Ontario’s curriculum and learning resources.
7.1 Types of Secondary School Courses
The Ontario secondary school program is based on a credit system. Full credit courses are 110 hours in length. A credit is granted by the principal on behalf of the Ministry of Education in recognition of the successful completion of the expectations of a 110-hour course that has been developed or approved by the Ministry of Education.
The curriculum is organized into several types of courses, intended to enable students to choose courses suited to their strengths, interests, and goals.
7.1.1 Grades 9 and 10 courses
Students choose between academic and applied courses in each of the core subjects - English, French as a second language, *mathematics, science, geography, and history.
*It is important to note that the Ministry of Education is taking steps towards phasing out streamed courses for grades 9 and 10, based on research and established best practices. This shift is intended to provide all students with the same learning experience. The Ministry of Education has started this shift with Grade 9 math as part of Ontario’s four-year math strategy to help students.
Academic courses develop a student's knowledge base and skills through the study of theory and abstract problems. These courses focus on the essential concepts of a subject and explore related concepts. They incorporate practical applications as appropriate. The code of an academic course ends with the letter "D", i.e., ENG1D.
Applied courses focus on the essential concepts of a subject and develop a student's knowledge base and skills through practical applications and concrete examples. Familiar situations are used to illustrate ideas, and students are given more opportunities to experience hands-on applications of the concepts and theories they study. The code of an applied course ends with the letter "P", i.e., ENG1P.
Open courses are designed to prepare students for further study in a subject, and to enrich their education generally. Open courses comprise a set of expectations that are appropriate for all students. The code of an open course ends with the letter "O", i.e., BTT2O.
Students in Grades 9 and 10, along with their parents or guardians will make the choice between academic, applied, or open courses primarily based on their strengths, interests, and needs. The Virtual High School Principal, guidance team, and teachers are here to assist the student in completing their course selections. Students who are successful in any academic or applied course in Grade 9 will have the opportunity to enter either the academic or applied course in the same subject in Grade 10. Grade 10 courses have prerequisite requirements. Grade 10 academic courses prepare students for Grade 11 University or College preparation courses; Grade 10 applied courses prepare students for Grade 11 College or Workplace preparation courses.
7.1.2 Changing Course Types
A student may change their educational goals in secondary school. If the student decides to embark on a new pathway, they may find that a prerequisite course that has not been completed, is now required. Virtual High School makes provisions to allow its students to make such changes of direction and clearly describes these provisions in the Virtual High School course calendar. In most cases, a student may enrol in a different type of course in a given subject in Grade 10 than the type he or she completed in Grade 9, although doing so may require additional preparation, as recommended by the Virtual High School Principal. In Grades 10 to 12, a student may change to a different type of course in a given subject provided that the student has taken any course specified as a prerequisite for that course. If the student has not done so, They may take one of the specified prerequisite courses through Virtual High School. If the Virtual High School Principal or the principal at the student’s home school believes that a student can be successful in a particular course without having taken the specified prerequisite course, then either principal may waive the prerequisite.
7.1.3 Grades 11 and 12 Courses
At Virtual High School, Grades 11 and 12 students will choose between destination-related course types: university preparation, university/college preparation, college preparation, and open courses. Students will make their choices based on their interests, achievements, and career goals. Prerequisites are specified for many of the courses offered in Grades 11 and 12. These prerequisites are identified in the Course of Study document for each course. The following four types of courses are offered by Virtual High School in Grades 11 and 12:
- College preparation courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for most college programs or for admission to specific apprenticeship or other training programs. The code of a college preparation course ends with the letter "C", i.e., MBF3C.
- University preparation courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for university programs. The code of a university preparation course ends with the letter "U", i.e., SCH3U.
- University / college preparation courses are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the entrance requirements for specific programs offered at universities and colleges. The code of a university / college preparation course ends with the letter "M", i.e., MCF3M.
- Open courses comprise a set of expectations that are appropriate for all students, are designed to broaden students' knowledge and skills in subjects that reflect their interests, and prepare them for active and rewarding participation in society. They are not designed with the specific requirements of university, college, or the workplace in mind. The code of an open course ends with the letter "O", i.e., EMS3O
7.1.4 Course Coding System
The common course code of all courses at Virtual High School consists both of a five-code character and a course title component, as designated by the Ontario Ministry of Education:
For example: MPM2D a1, Principles of Mathematics
MPM 2 D a1 Course Descriptor Grade of Course Course Type School Code The first letter of each course code indicates the department. In this case M=Mathematics
- "1" = Grade 9
- "2" = Grade 10
- "3" = Grade 11
- "4" = Grade 12
- D - Academic
- P - Applied
- W - De-streamed
- O - Open
- U - University
- C - College
- M - College/University
An indicator of the course version for Virtual High School administration reference.
7.1.5 Prerequisite Courses
Many courses require the student to have completed a prerequisite course. All prerequisite courses are identified in curriculum policy documents published by the Ontario Ministry of Education, and no course apart from these may be identified as prerequisites. Any school operating in Ontario must provide parents and students with clear and accurate information about prerequisites. If a parent or an adult student (a student who is eighteen years of age or older) requests that a prerequisite be waived, the Virtual High School Principal will determine whether the prerequisite should be waived. The principal may also initiate consideration of whether a prerequisite should be waived. The principal will make their decision in consultation with the student, the appropriate Virtual High School staff and the parent or guardian.
7.2 Programs for Exceptional Students
Recognizing the needs of exceptional students and designing courses to meet those needs are important and challenging aspects of program planning. Students who have an existing Individual Education Plan (IEP) will have that IEP honored at Virtual High School through the implementation of appropriate accommodations.
7.2.1 Reaching Ahead
Elementary school students may reach ahead to take high school credits. This may occur only after the of Virtual High School Principal consults with the student, the parent or guardian, and the principal of the student’s elementary school. The Virtual High School Principal must ensure that the learning expectations of the Grade 8 course have been met. The Virtual High School Principal is also responsible for evaluating the student's achievement of the expectations of the Virtual High School course. Virtual High School will issue the OSSD credit.
7.3 Online Courses Available
Students may register for any course at any time during the calendar year, progress through at their own rate and finish the course at any time up to 18 months from the time of registration.
7.3.1 Course List
As of August 2021, here is a list of Virtual High School courses that students may register for:
7.3.2 Fast Track and Upgrade/Repeat Courses
In addition to our standard courses, Virtual High School is pleased to offer Fast Track and Upgrade/Repeat courses.
Fast Track courses guarantee 24-hour teacher email response times and 2-day assessment grading. They are otherwise identical to the non-fast track version of the course. Students who need to meet an approaching deadline or simply prefer the accelerated workflow of quicker teacher response and assessment turnaround times may benefit from registering for a Fast Track course with Virtual High School.
Upgrade/Repeat courses are intended for students who wish to improve their grades in courses that they have already successfully completed. These courses contain similar course content to the course previously studied. The only difference between the standard version and the Upgrade/Repeat version of the course is in the assessment workload. Upgrade/Repeat courses have a condensed assessment workload (fewer or shorter assessments). To be eligible for an Upgrade/Repeat course, the student must have completed the same OSSD course before and earned a final grade of at least 50%.