What is the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)?

The OSSLT, assesses whether students have the literacy (reading and writing) skills needed to meet the literacy requirement for the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).

What are the benefits of the test?

Besides determining whether a student has the literacy (reading and writing) skills needed to meet the literacy requirement for an OSSD, the OSSLT provides the Ontario education system with valid, reliable and comparable year-to-year data on student acquisition of literacy skills. It also provides data to assist schools and boards in improvement planning and target setting.

What is assessed?

The OSSLT assesses reading and writing skills.

Reading is defined as the process through which the reader actively makes meaning for a variety of written texts that students are expected to understand according to the expectations in The Ontario Curriculum across all subjects up to the end of grade 9. The OSSLT narrative, information, and graphic reading selections focus on three reading skills:

  • Reading Skill 1: understanding explicitly stated information and ideas
  • Reading Skill 2: understanding implicitly stated information and ideas (making inferences)
  • Reading Skill 3: making connections between information and ideas in a reading selection and personal knowledge and experience (interpreting reading selections by integrating information and ideas in a reading selection and personal knowledge and experience)

Writing is defined as the constructive process of communicating the written forms in which students are expected to write according to the expectations in The Ontario Curriculum across all subjects up to the end of grade 9. Through a combination of Multiple-choice questions and two short and two long Open-response writing tasks, the OSSLT focuses on three writing skills:

  • Writing Skill 1: developing a main idea with sufficient supporting details
  • Writing Skill 2: organizing information and ideas in a coherent manner
  • Writing Skill 3: using conventions (spelling, grammar, punctuation) in a manner that does not distract from clear communication

What does the OSSLT consist of?

The OSSLT consists of two booklets. The test contains both operational and field-test reading and writing items. The operational component of the test comprises:

  • 31 Multiple-choice reading items related to five reading selections
  • 4 Open-response items related to 3 of the 5 reading selections
  • 2 short Open-response writing tasks
  • 2 long Open-response writing tasks (a series of paragraphs expressing an opinion and a news report) and
  • 8 Multiple-choice writing items

Operational items are “live” test questions that count toward a student’s score. Field-test questions are embedded in a test for trial purposes for potential use in future tests. Each booklet contains embedded field-test questions that account for less than 20% of the allotted time.

How is the test scored?

Each Open-response item on the OSSLT is scored using a rubric. Multiple-choice items are scored by machine.

Learn More

Improve student test results by ordering a class set of the OSSLT Workbook for your students and the OSSLT Workbook Answer Key with Exemplars teacher guide for yourself.

November 02, 2015 by Patrick Lashmar
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