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What are the key guidelines and details for administering the OSSLT this year?

This section covers common questions that teachers may have regarding the OSSLT.

What is the purpose of the OSSLT, and what will be reported this year?

The purpose of the OSSLT is to determine whether a student has the literacy (reading and writing) skills required to meet the standard for understanding reading selections and communicating in a variety of writing forms expected by The Ontario Curriculum across all subjects up to the end of Grade 9. School administrators and teachers, with guidance from school boards, will make decisions about the details of the test.

Student results will be reported to school principals for this assessment year. Students who are successful on the 2021–2022 OSSLT will have satisfied their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) graduation requirement.

When will the test be administered during the year, and will students who are studying remotely full-time be participating in the test?

EQAO is planning to administer the OSSLT at two points during the 2021–2022 school year. The first is between October 13 and December 1, with individual student results reported by the end of January 2022, and the second is between March 23 and May 18, with individual student results reported by the end of June 2022. Grades 10 and 11 students and non-graduating Grade 12 students who are studying in person are eligible to take the OSSLT. As the literacy graduation requirement for all students graduating during the 2021–2022 school year has been waived, graduating students do not need to take the test.

The OSSLT is being made available to students who are learning in person. Should a student who is learning remotely wish to participate in the test, the board may arrange for the student’s in-person participation. Schools should focus on ensuring that cohorts are maintained, that all necessary public health directives are followed and that school-board health and safety measures continue to be employed. 

What decisions must school administrators make, and what are EQAO’s assessment guidelines?

This year, school administrators and teachers, with guidance from school boards, will determine the details of the school plan for administering the OSSLT.

School administrators, in partnership with teachers, are responsible for ensuring that

  • the schedule, locations and details for writing the test, including the plan and requirements for students receiving additional time, are determined ahead of time.
  • accommodations and special provisions are provided to students with special education needs, English-language learners and students with special circumstances.
  • students are supervised at all times during the test.
  • test materials, including questions, are not copied or shared in any way (e.g., pictures or screenshots are not taken of any content).
  • any issues related to the security of the test are reported to EQAO.

If a student’s response to a question on a test or questionnaire is deemed offensive, the principal may be notified.

What do the sessions look like?

The OSSLT is a computer-based assessment that comprises two sessions (Session A and Session B) containing a total of 33 questions: 31 multiple-select questions (e.g., multiple-choice, drag and drop, drop-down menu, checklist, text selection) and two constructed open-response questions. Each session is designed to be completed in 60 minutes, and students complete each session in one sitting. The sessions can be attempted one after the other, either back to back with a break in between or on two different dates and times. If students require additional time to complete a session, extra time with supervision is allowed.

Please note: 15 minutes should be scheduled before the 60 minutes for Session A for students to do the Minds-On Activity, read the general instructions and explore the tools.

At the end of the two test sessions, students will be presented with a questionnaire that asks them about their attitudes and perceptions with respect to literacy.

What accommodations and special provisions are suggested for students?

Alternative formats of the assessment have been created for students with special education needs, including students with a visual impairment. Please contact EQAO at info@eqao.com to order a Braille or printable version of the assessment, MP3s with full audio descriptions, and/or an alternative version of the test within the e-assessment system with full audio descriptions.  

Please note that 72 hours’ notice is required for all alternative versions of the test.

School administrators and teachers can create a plan to accommodate all students who require the following:

  • Additional time
  • A quiet, individual and/or small group setting
  • Preferential seating
  • Prompts (reminders for students who are off task)

Accommodations for each student with special education needs must be consistent with assessment accommodations on the Individual Education Plan (IEP) and can include the following:

  • Extended periodic supervised breaks
  • Sign language or an oral interpreter
  • A Unified English Braille version with or without the audio version
  • Additional assistive technology
  • Verbatim scribing of answers

English-language learners can receive the following special provision:

  • Extended periodic supervised breaks

What can students have access to during the assessment?

During the assessment, students can have access to the following:

  • Headphones for listening to questions
  • White noise or calming music as required
  • A supply of pens or pencils and paper for rough work

Support materials are available for all students once they log in to the online OSSLT. A set of accessibility tools is located in the student toolbar. These tools are available to every student taking the OSSLT:  

  • A help menu  
  • A text-to-speech function that reads the text on the screen out loud  
  • Zoom in and zoom out capabilities 
  • A line reader that helps students focus on one line of text at a time 
  • A high-contrast view 
  • Annotation tools (highlighter, line and eraser)
  • A tool for rough notes  

All students will also have access to virtual breathing exercises, reminders of test taking strategies and other minds-on activities to help them as they take the modernized OSSLT. 

Who will receive the Individual Student Reports, and what is included in the report?

Individual student results provide the student outcome in a single literacy score. These scores will be reported to school principals for this assessment year. Students who are successful on the 2021–2022 OSSLT will have satisfied their OSSD graduation requirement.

Results will be released after the open-response questions have been scored. An Individual Student Report will be generated for students after the scoring of the OSSLT. 

How is a student outcome of “successful” or “not yet successful” determined?

The Individual Student Report will communicate the outcome and a single literacy score for each student.

This information will enable students, parents, guardians and teachers to plan for improvement.

A statistical procedure informed by Item Response Theory (IRT) will be used to assign outcomes to students according to their responses to the questions on the OSSLT. IRT is based on the relationship between students’ overall ability in reading and writing and their performance on individual items. The analysis determines the most likely location of a student on the achievement continuum defined by the content of the test.

Each student’s outcome is determined by the pattern of responses to the multiple-select questions and by the scores achieved on the open-response questions.

The following is a sample final OSSLT report for a student.