Frequently Asked Questions
2007 Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test
What is the purpose of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)?
- The OSSLT is a provincial standards-based test of the reading and writing skills students are expected to have acquired across all subjects up to the end of Grade 9.
- Successful completion of the test or of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course is one of the 32 requirements for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma.
What does the test measure?
The test determines whether a student's literacy skills meet the minimum standard for
- understanding reading selections and
- communicating in a variety of writing forms
according to the expectations in The Ontario Curriculum.
Does EQAO report on the level of achievement of each student?
No. There are only two student outcomes on the OSSLT – successful or unsuccessful. Either a student has met the minimum standard for literacy or has not.
What if a student is unsuccessful on the test?
Students who are unsuccessful on the test in Grade 10 can:
- take the test again in Grade 11 and (if required) Grade 12 or
- enroll in the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course.
How is the test developed?
It takes about three years and 200 educators and assessment experts to create each year's test. The test is
- developed by committees of Ontario educators and assessment experts:
- Item Writing Committee: composed of curriculum and literacy experts, who create test questions (items) and often pilot test them in their classrooms
- Assessment Development Committee: ensures the test matches curriculum expectations
- Sensitivity Committee: ensures the test questions and reading passages are not biased against any student groups
- Psychometric Expert Panel: composed of national and international experts in the science of assessment, who ensure the validity of the test
- Each year, potential questions for the next year's test are included in assessment booklets and randomly distributed across the province. Students' answers to these questions do not count towards their score, but EQAO evaluates the responses to:
- judge the effectiveness of the question,
- determine whether or not to use it "for real" in the next test and
- provide a benchmark for year-over-year comparability.
- environment in which the test is administered;
- amount of time allowed for the test and
- format of the test and student responses (large-print or Braille versions of the test, text-to-speech software, scribes, etc.).
How are students with special needs accommodated on the test?
EQAO follows the Ministry of Education's policy (PPM 127) to ensure students receiving special education programs and services who have Individual Education Plans have a fair and equal opportunity to complete the OSSLT successfully.
Accommodations may include changes to the
Are some students excused from writing the test?
The school principal may allow students who are not ready to take the test to delay taking it until the following year. Principals can also grant exemptions to students not working toward the Ontario Secondary School Diploma.