Secondary School Graduates Survey (SSGS)

Detailed information for 2002-2003





Record number:


The purpose of the Secondary School Graduates Survey is to provide the secondary graduation counts by age and sex. Graduation rates are also produced.

Data release - February 2, 2005


The purpose of the Secondary School Graduates Survey is to provide the secondary graduation counts by age and sex. Graduation rates are also produced.

The information about secondary graduates is generally used by provincial and territorial departments or ministries of education, national and provincial teachers' associations, school boards, journalists and researchers, as well as the OECD and UNESCO.

This survey was discontinued after the 2002-2003 reference year. These data are now collected by the Elementary-Secondary Education Statistics Project (see the link in the "Documentation" section).

Reference period: Academic year (September to June), including "late graduates" from the fall.

Collection period: December


  • Education, training and learning
  • Students

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The population with which this survey is concerned is a subset of secondary school graduates, where secondary school graduates are persons who receive a secondary school graduation certificate awarded by a provincial or territorial department or ministry of education upon completion of a program of study at the Grade 12 level (Secondary V in Quebec).

Graduation rates are based on "youth" enrolled in regular day programs only. Graduates from upgrading programs for out-of-school adults, sometimes leading to "equivalency" certification but in other cases leading to regular high school graduation certification, are not included. Examples of these kinds of programs include: night schools and general education diplomas.

Secondary schools include all public schools, private schools, federal schools and schools for special needs students or people with vision and hearing loss. Public schools are schools that are established and operated by local school authorities pursuant to the public schools legislation of the province or territory. Also included in this category are Protestant and Roman Catholic separate schools and schools operated in Canada by National Defence within the framework of the public schools system. Private schools, whether church-affiliated or non-sectarian, are operated and administered by private individuals or groups. Federal schools are schools that are administered directly by the federal government, overseas schools operated by the Department of National Defence for dependants of Canadian Forces personnel, and schools operated by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada or by band councils. Schools for special needs students or people with vision and hearing loss provide special facilities and training for special needs or visually or hearing impaired students. Most of these institutions are under direct provincial or territorial government administration.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore, no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2004-02-01 to 2004-12-31

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and extracted from administrative files.

The Secondary School Graduates Survey is an administrative survey in which aggregate graduation counts are collected from provincial and territorial departments or ministries of education who originally collected the data for their own purposes. Annually, in October, the provinces and territories are sent a letter and a table template requesting graduate data by age and gender. The provincial or territorial contacts are then followed up by e-mail or telephone.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s).

Error detection

Counts and rates are compared with the data from previous years, population estimates, and the reports of the provincial and territorial departments of education.


This methodology does not apply.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

A series of quality checks are carried out which include:

1) Ensuring that Statistics Canada data are consistent with provincial and territorial departments or ministries of education data that have been published.

2) Checking for internal consistencies such as running frequencies on certain data elements.

3) Comparing the most recent data year with past years to detect any unusual or unexpected changes. After the final file has been approved, a public release is announced in The Daily.

4) Reviewing yearly the high school graduation requirements for each province and territory in order to identify any changes which may have an impact on the graduate data.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

The data are aggregated by province and territory. The tables are evaluated in accordance with the Statistics Canada rules on confidentiality.

In regard to client requests for cross-classified data, Statistics Canada does not supply any tables that could identify a student or school. As a guideline, a cell with a count of under 3 is suppressed, and in order to avoid residual disclosure, other cells are also chosen for suppression.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy


The graduation counts are based on all "youth" graduates from regular programs. The exact definition of a "graduate" is not very easy to determine. This is partly attributable to a number of special equivalency programs offered by the provincial and territorial departments or ministries of education and the fact that there is not a clear distinction between "youth" and "adult" graduates. Furthermore, school graduations are not always compiled by provincial and territorial departments or ministries of education. In some cases, data are just unavailable.

a) "Regular" vs. "non-regular" certification programs

Not all provincial and territorial departments or ministries of education rely on the same definition to determine the coverage of "regular" programs. For "regular" programs, graduates from upgrading programs for out-of-school adults and other "non-regular" programs are excluded (except for Quebec, where "regular" programs refer to both "general" and "professional" certification programs). "Non-regular" programs correspond to adult education programs (independent learning centres, night school, mature student programs, etc.) and to equivalency certification programs (general education diploma, etc.).

As shown by the table in the link below, the data sent by the provincial and territorial departments or ministries of education do not always include graduates from all schools offering "regular" programs. For the 2002-2003 academic year, the coverage of regular schools was limited to the provincial public schools in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and in many cases, the federal and band-operated schools were not covered either, a situation mostly attributable to the unavailability of data for these schools.

b) "Youth" graduates

The absence of a precise definition of "youth" also complicates the situation. The absence of clear rules means that adults registered in "regular" programs could be included in the calculations, regardless of age. It must be noted that youth graduates registered to adult programs are currently excluded in all jurisdictions. This situation biases the results downward in all jurisdictions. Therefore, if adult graduates (and graduates from non-regular programs) were all included along with graduates from regular programs, the graduation rate would be higher in all jurisdictions.

Response rates:

For most years, the response rate is generally 100%, with the following exceptions: For the most recent four years, data for Ontario was not updated as the data were not available at the time of the creation of the data tables. In previous years, some provincial or territorial departments or ministries of education were slow to report, so the data had to be estimated for these cases.

Co-efficients of Variation (CV's):

CV's are not calculated as this survey is a census.


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