Attention: News editors, education reporters
TORONTO, June 13, 2012—The results of this year’s Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), which is administered every year to students in Grade 10 by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), show that the vast majority have developed the literacy skills required to participate effectively and productively in life. Of the Grade 10 students who wrote the test, 82% were successful this year. Over the past five years, the provincial success rate has remained relatively stable, ranging between 82% and 85%.
A closer look at the results points to a notable 70/30 split in student achievement. The large majority of Ontario’s Grade 10 students who wrote the test (71%, or 103 941) were enrolled in the academic English course in 2012, and more than nine out of 10 of those who wrote the test (93%, 95 250) were successful.
The results are different for the remaining 30%—some 43 000 students. For example, although 22% (33 142) of all Grade 10 students who wrote the test are enrolled in the applied English course, students from this course represent more than half (58%) of all those who were unsuccessful on the OSSLT this year. Since this pattern has been observed for a number of years, the findings suggest the effectiveness of the applied English course should be reviewed.
Analyzing the results further still, EQAO examined this year’s Grade 10 students’ results on the reading and writing components of the provincial assessments they wrote four years ago when in Grade 6. This analysis revealed that of the Grade 10 students who were not successful on the OSSLT this year, 78% had also not met the provincial reading standard in 2008. There continues to be a significant group of students progressing through the grades without receiving the literacy support they need to be successful.
“The publicly funded school system is doing a good job developing the literacy skills of the vast majority of its students—a fact that is consistently proven in provincial, national and international assessments,” said Dr. Brian Desbiens, Chair of EQAO’s Board of Directors. “However, the courses and supports designed specifically for students who need different kinds of programming to develop their literacy skills are not producing the outcomes EQAO’s board of directors would expect to see.”
“The evidence is clear that the earlier we identify and support students in need, the better chance we have at altering their path to help them find success,” added Marguerite Jackson, EQAO’s Chief Executive Officer. “Ontario’s Grade 3 and Grade 6 students just finished writing the provincial tests last week, and we encourage their parents and guardians to pay close attention to the results they’ll receive in September and work in partnership with teachers to support their child’s learning.”
OSSLT results by school and school board are available at www.eqao.com.
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The reading results for the 123 246 students in the cohort are as follows:
Of the 37 837 students who wrote the OSSLT and who had not met the standard in reading in Grade 6,
Of the 20 898 students who were unsuccessful on the 2012 OSSLT and who had written the junior-division assessment in 2008,
The OSSLT measures whether students are meeting the minimum standard for literacy across all subjects up to the end of Grade 9, according to the expectations defined in The Ontario Curriculum. To meet the standard, students must be able to read and understand ideas and information in a variety of written texts most of the time and communicate ideas and information in writing clearly and without distracting errors in punctuation, spelling, grammar or organization most of the time.
Successful completion of the OSSLT is one of the 32 requirements for an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. Students who are unsuccessful on the test in Grade 10 can take it again the next school year or fulfill the diploma requirement by successfully completing the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course.
EQAO was established in 1996, based on a recommendation from Ontario’s Royal Commission on Learning. The all-party commission consulted extensively with teachers, parents, students and taxpayers. It concluded that province-wide assessments would contribute to greater quality and accountability in the publicly funded school system.
EQAO plays an important role in Ontario’s school system by conducting province-wide tests at key points in every student’s primary, junior and secondary education and by reporting the results. The tests measure student performance in reading, writing and mathematics based on the expectations set out in The Ontario Curriculum.
Results from EQAO testing are an important indicator of student learning and measure achievement in relation to a common provincial standard. The objective and reliable information gained through these assessments adds to the current knowledge about how Ontario students are doing and has become an important tool for improvement planning at the student, school, school board and provincial levels.