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

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

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

The purpose of the administration of the OSSLT is to field test the new online assessment. The field test provides an opportunity for students to try this new online format and supports the continued development of the assessment platform. As this is a field-test year, school administrators and teachers, with guidance from school boards, will make decisions about the details of the assessment.

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

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

EQAO is planning to administer the OSSLT March 23–June 4. Grades 10 and 11 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 2020—2021 school year has been waived, graduating students do not need to take the field test.

The OSSLT field test is being made available to students who are learning in person. Should a student who is learning remotely wish to participate in the field 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 assessment.

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

  • the schedule, locations and other details for writing the assessment, 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 assessment.
  • assessment 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 assessment are reported to EQAO.

If a student’s response to a question on an assessment 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-choice questions (including technologically enhanced multiple-select questions, e.g., drag and drop, dropdown menu, checklist) 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. 

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 assessment within the e-assessment system with full audio descriptions.  

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

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 (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  
  • A line reader that helps students focus on one line of text at a time 
  • A high-contrast view
  • Annotation tools 
  • 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. 

What is testlet-based linear computer testing, and how will it work for the OSSLT?  

The OSSLT uses a testlet-based linear on-the-fly (tLOFT) design. In this method, test forms are generated in real time through the selection of pre-constructed and pre-equated groups of items and, where applicable, the associated reading passages. Each group generated under this model is mapped to a blueprint specifying criteria for the items to be selected.

The two sessions are presented to students in six groupings of the following types of questions: 

  1. Real-Life Narrative (RLN): a passage and seven multiple-choice reading questions
  2. Information Paragraph (INP): a passage and six multiple-choice reading questions
  3. News Report (NR): a passage, one written response and five multiple-choice reading questions
  4. Dialogue (DIA): five multiple-choice reading questions related to a dialogue 
  5. Written Multiple-Choice (WMC): eight multiple-choice writing questions 
  6. Series of Paragraphs Expressing an Opinion (OPP): prompt for one written response composed of a series of paragraphs 

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 OSSLT field test 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 assessment.  

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 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-choice questions and by the scores achieved on the open-response questions. 

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

As this is a field-test year, EQAO will not be reporting school, board or provincial results this year.