Secondary Pathway Planning

As students choose courses throughout high school, they must ensure they have a good understanding of the types of courses available and which are required for their post-secondary pathway. To ensure they make informed choices, students are encouraged to:

  • consider their strengths and interests
  • consider learning skills and work habits
  • seek the recommendations of their teachers
  • consider their pathway
  • seek help from their Guidance Counsellor

The DCDSB Pathways to Student Success website can help with the planning process.


Make Changes to Current Courses

Students can make changes to their timetables in a current or future semester based on the following guidelines:

  • Grade 9 and 10 students cannot make changes to their elective courses.
  • Grade 11 and 12 students may make changes to their courses to meet the requirements for post-secondary application.
  • All students may make changes to their course levels.

All changes are subject to availability and approval and must be made within the deadlines set out in the school calendar.

To Request a Course or Level Change:

  1. Send an Edsby message to your Guidance Counsellor requesting a change.
  2. Your Counsellor will make sure the request is possible and send the request form to a parent/guardian.
  3. Your parent/guardian must submit the form for approval.
  4. Once approved, your Counsellor will make the change and let you know once it has been done.  **You MUST continue to attend class until you are notified that the change has been made.


Course Selection

Course selection takes place each year in February for the following school year.  Click here to access resources for the course selection process. 

Students must submit their course selection on time to have an equal chance at getting the courses they selected.  It is important to make informed choices based on strengths, interests, learning skills, and post-secondary pathway.  Changing courses after the course selection process may not be possible.


Understanding Course Levels

The selection of course level should be subject-specific; students may choose a combination of levels and still have access to all possible post-secondary pathways depending on prerequisite.  For example, a student may choose academic/university English and applied/college Math.

The level of course selected depends on many factors, including: attitude/motivation, organizational skills, homework skills, independence/ initiative, and provincial standard (Level 3 or 4).  Students who have learning styles suited to theoretical, abstract thinking, who are self-motivated and require less teacher direction should choose academic/university courses.  Students who benefit from additional time spent on individual topics, with learning styles suited to hands-on, practical learning should choose applied/college courses. 

De-Streamed (W) Courses
Courses in which students are not "streamed" into academic, nor applied.  A de-streamed course will prepare students for the apprenticeship, college, university, and workplace pathways. 

 Open (O) Courses

All students at all levels of academic abilities and learning needs and strengths can take an open level course. Expectations are designed to be appropriate for all students.

Locally Developed (L) and Workplace (E) Courses 
  • learn the most essential concepts of a subject;
  • require teacher direction and instruction to accommodate learning needs and to complete activities;
  • improve basic literacy and numeracy skills;
  • learning skills need improvement or require consistent practice and reinforcement; and
  • students best suited for Locally Developed Courses have previously worked in the Level 1 range.
Applied (P) and College (C) Courses 
  • learn the essential concepts of a subject;
  • emphasis is on practical and hands-on application of concepts;
  • students are more dependent learners, preferring discussions, teacher-directed or teacher-guided learning
        and real-life applications;
  • students who do well in Grade 9 applied have generally performed in the Level 2-3 range;
  • equips students with the knowledge and skills required for college programs.
 University/College (M) Courses
  • Includes content that is relevant for both university and college program;
  • equips students with the knowledge and skills required for specific university and college programs.
Academic (D) and University (U) Courses
  • students learn the essential concepts of a subject and explore related materials;
  • emphasis is on theory and abstract thinking as a basis for future learning;
  • students are creative and like to research and problem solve;
  • students are independent learners with good to excellent learning skills; and
  • students who do well in Grade 9 academic have generally performed in the Level 3-4 range;
  • equips students with the knowledge and skills required for university programs.
Advanced Placement (AP) Courses 
  • students meet or exceed a high level of academic achievement (Level 4 or 80%) in a broad array of subjects;
  • are independent, self-directed learners;
  • process information quickly;
  • display intellectual curiosity; and
  • assume responsibility for their own learning.

Notre Dame CSS offers the following AP courses:

  • English (in grade 12)
  • Mathematics (in grades 10, 11 & 12)
    Students who join the program in grade 11 or 12 will be responsible for completing independent work to fill the gaps left by missing the previous course(s).  Students cannot take Calculus & Vectors unless they have taken the grade 10 course or completed work independently.
  • Science (in grades 10, 11 & 12)
    Students who join the program in grade 11 will be at a disadvantage due to missed content that cannot be made up.  Students can NOT join the program in grade 12.

Please note that if/when independent work is required, the teacher will assess what is required and provide work once the student begins their first AP course.



Understanding Course Codes

All secondary school courses are identified with a six character code. The first five characters are consistent throughout the province of Ontario.  The diagram below explains the what the codes mean.



Academic Recognition

Students in Grades 9, 10, and 11 are eligible for Honour Roll if they have a minimum 80.0% in all of their day school courses.  Summer school and night school courses do not qualify.

Students in Grade 12 are eligible for Ontario Scholar if they have a minimum 80.0% in their top 6 Grade 12 courses.