Students, Teachers, and Parents
To support the development of reading and writing skills and help students prepare for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).
The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) is a high school graduation requirement. All students take the test in grade 10 to evaluate their proficiency in reading and writing. If students are unsuccessful, they may retake the test the following year. If they are still unable to pass the test, they may take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC) to demonstrate their competence.
Literacy is vital to achieving success, not only in high school and in post-secondary schools, but also in the workplace. Communication is identified as the top employability skill by the Conference Board of Canada. All employers require high levels of information literacy and clear communication skills. This means we need to ensure that all students can read and understand all forms of information and can write clearly so others will understand.
Reading Skills include understanding information and ideas in a variety of texts, making inferences based on information in a text, making connections between a text and personal experience, and supporting personal ideas with information from a reading selection.
On the OSSLT, reading selections focus on narrative texts (fiction or real-life stories), informational texts (news reports, factual readings), and graphic texts (maps, posters, pamphlets).
On the OSSLT students will be required to read 5 selections and answer approximately 31 multiple-choice and 4 open response questions to demonstrate reading competence. These will be worth 53% of the overall literacy score.
Writing skills are assessed by the ability to communicate in various written forms, including developing a main idea with sufficient supporting detail, organizing information and ideas in a coherent manner, and using writing conventions (spelling, grammar, punctuation).
On the OSSLT, writing tasks included a combination of multiple-choice questions related to writing structure, organization of ideas, and conventions, two short writing tasks (one paragraph), and two long writing tasks (a news report and an opinion essay, three or more paragraphs in length).
To demonstrate writing competence, students will be required to write paragraph responses to two prompts (12% of literacy score), write a series of paragraphs expressing an opinion on a given topic (12% of literacy score), and write a news report based on a picture and a headline prompt (12% of literacy score). These will be worth 36% of the overall literacy score.
Writing Conventions include Sentence Structure, Paragraph Organization, Punctuation, Grammar, Quotation Marks, Capitalization, Parts of Speech, Diction, Word Choice, and Spelling.
On the OSSLT students will answer approximately 8 multiple-choice questions to demonstrate satisfactory understanding of writing conventions. These will be worth 10% of the overall literacy score.
Even though Writing Conventions are only worth approximately 11% of the overall mark, it is still worthwhile reviewing and practicing these. In addition, clear writing will improve the marks on the open-response questions and writing tasks which are worth 36% of the overall literacy score.
School-based Literacy Initiatives
- Literacy is a Pillar in our School and Board Improvement Plan;
- Literacy has been an ongoing focus for Professional Development;
- Targeted Reading Tasks across the curriculum in Open and Applied Level courses;
- Strategies for Success: Preparing for the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test: A Resource Guide for Teachers was developed and distributed by the Board;
- Practice Literacy Test with feedback and areas of improvement for all students;
- Literacy Coaching to address individual student needs in preparation for the OSSLT;
- The Learning Cycles program provide in-school training for teachers;
- Follow-up, meetings and additional support for students who were attempting the OSSLT for the second time;
- Literacy across the curriculum, has been a focus of PD and Learning Cycles;
- Think Literacy documents are available for all subject areas, and all teachers have been in-serviced with these;
- D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read): To promote school-wide literacy, the entire school reads for 15 minutes. D.E.A.R. has many benefits. Students have the opportunity to read books of their own choice. So much of what we do in school involved books and reading material selected by the teacher. D.E.A.R. places value in reading for pleasure.
- Write Now!: To promote school-wide literacy, the entire school writes for 15 minutes. Write Now! has many benefits. Students have the opportunity to write on a subject of their choice in a medium (journals, poems, songs, letters, etc.) of their choice.
- Teachers share literacy practices through team meetings, staff meetings, newsletters, and our First Class intranet system;
- Continuous purchase and renewal of appropriate reading materials that target reluctant readers.