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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 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 the end of Grade 9. 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 2021–2022 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 test.

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

  • the schedule, locations and other 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. 

At the end of the two assessment 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 test have been created for students with special education needs, including students with a visual impairment. Please e-mail EQAO at info@eqao.com to order a Braille or printable version of the test or MP3s (MP3 audio matches the audio available in the e-assessment).

Schools are responsible for inputting the student’s answers from the printable version into the e-assessment platform. The printable version of the test will match the online version. School staff must login to the e-assessment platform using the student’s OEN and access code to input the answers from the printable version for the student.

If a student requires assistance from a scribe please see instructions below.

Please note: Once the student’s answers for both session A and session B of OSSLT have been transcribed into the e-assessment system and successfully submitted, the school must shred the printable version of the OSSLT and delete all PDF files.

Please note that 5–7 business days’ notice is required for delivery of the Braille version to schools and a minimum of 72 hours’ notice is required for delivery of all other alternative versions.

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

Guidance for Scribes

The scribe may:

  • Record the student’s responses by typing or printing exactly what the student dictates.
  • Input answers to the multiple-select questions as directed by the student.
  • Assume each sentence begins with a capital and ends with a period.
  • Read the dictation back to the student if requested.
  • Prompt the student’s attention back to the test.  Prompts can include a tap on the desk or a verbal signal (e.g., a word or phrase) to draw the student’s attention back to the test.
  • Show the student the transcription after the student has finished working and ask if any corrections are necessary. The scribe may make corrections according to the student’s directions.

The scribe may not: 

  • Edit or alter the student’s dictation in any way, except at the student’s request.
  • Alert the student to mistakes.
  • Prompt in order to draw the student’s attention to a specific part of the assessment.  Prompts do not include clarification, explanation or translation of any part of the test.
  • Initiate the use of test-taking strategies.
  • Show any reaction to the student’s responses.
  • Correct the student’s responses unless directed by the student.
  • Engage in incidental conversation with the student or others

What can students have access to during the test?

During the test, 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

With respect to classroom displays, EQAO is not requiring changes to classroom displays.

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?

Results 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 assessment.  

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

The Individual Student Report provides the outcome for each student.

A student’s outcome is assigned using a statistical procedure that takes into account the student’s responses to the questions on the assessment and the characteristics of each question, such as difficulty. This procedure, known as Item Response Theory, assumes a continuum of literacy ability, and locates the student’s outcome along that continuum.

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

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

Accessing Individual Student Reports

Once the Individual Student Reports are available, follow the steps below to access to them.

1. Log in to your account.

2. Once you have logged in, select the Reports tab.

3. Once you have opened the Reports tab, you will see a list of all the student reports. Click Print # report(s) to print (on paper or to PDF) and download the reports. You can also print and download all the reports at once, if required.

To view a specific student’s report, open the Students tab and select View Report next to a student’s name.

Please note: These reports contain personal information that is protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. As a result, the reports should be shared with or provided to the principal or delegate only (no one else has access to this information). Reports will not be sent to teachers. If you would like your teaching staff to view individual student reports, you will need to send the reports directly to them.

Schools can review, verify or update all student-level data (e.g., student name, Ontario Education Number, demographic information) until July 7. Beyond this date, the e-assessment system will be read-only. Once again, many thanks for your continued support, especially during these unique times. EQAO values your commitment to student learning and to improving student outcomes.