Secondary Parents/Guardians and Students,
We are writing today to provide an update regarding the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). The OSSLT is a graduation requirement for secondary students in Ontario and is typically written by students in Grade 10.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OSSLT was not administered last school year and the literacy test requirement was waived for students graduating in 2021. Therefore, there are two groups of students currently eligible to write the OSSLT:
- Current Grade 10 students
- Current Grade 11 students (unable to write in Grade 10 due to pandemic)
This year, the EQAO is field testing a new online OSSLT. Participation in this field test is not mandatory and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has decided not to participate. This means that eligible students will write the OSSLT during the 2021-22 school year. This decision not to participate in the field test was made with the best interests of students and families in mind and is consistent with a number of other school boards in Ontario.
First and foremost, at the TDSB we are committed to providing equity of access to learning opportunities for all students. However, since the EQAO requires the OSSLT field test to be completed in-person, a large number of students learning virtually would not have access to this opportunity. Given our commitment to equity, this is a significant barrier for virtual students. Further, it would be challenging to offer the assessment to students learning in-person while also maintaining cohorts and physical distancing and ensuring health and safety practices are followed.
Additionally, we are focused on supporting the mental health and well-being of students and families. During what has been a challenging and stressful year for many, we do not want to add another item to students’ plates.
The TDSB has also made a commitment to maximizing instructional time this year and the substantial time required to plan, prepare and write the OSSLT would take away from classroom instruction and learning for students and staff. It is for this same reason that the TDSB has moved away from administering final exams in each quadmester this year.
We feel strongly that this is the best decision for students at this time. Looking forward to next year, the EQAO has plans underway to provide multiple sittings of the OSSLT to ensure that all students can fulfill their graduation requirement. Further details on plans for next year will be shared with you once EQAO has provided this information to school boards.
Thank you for your ongoing understanding and support.