On Monday, Grade 10 students across Ontario sat down to write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. The test usually has an overall success rate of over 80 percent, a rate that’s much higher than other standardized test results.
However, statistics reveal that 40 per cent of students with special needs requirements and 47 per cent of students in the applied stream aren’t passing. Unlike other standardized tests, passing the OSSLT is mandatory to graduate high school; although accommodations can be offered, all students must write the same test.
“I believe there are a number of issues with the OSSLT,” said Dana Sahian, a parent who works in the education sector. “My son is dyslexic and will be writing this exam. I really feel that this test not being offered at an applied level is a violation of his human rights.”
Sahian has reached out to other parents hoping their dissatisfaction can turn into real change in schools.
Following high school graduation the next step for a majority of young Ontarians is to continue their education in the college and university system. For students who struggled with the OSSLT, however, the test becomes a major barrier to that goal.
“I remember that test, I was nervous at the time, but honestly it didn’t really matter, in my program now I don’t really use those types of skills that way,” said second year Humber Tourism student, Tony Nguyen.
Like many post-secondary institutions in Ontario, Humber College offers accessible learning services to students who require them. During the last academic year, that was nearly 3,000 students, about 10 per cent of the full-time student body. The most common services students use is extra time for tests and note taking support.
“Humber is committed to providing an inclusive learning environment for students. The facilitation of academic accommodations is one part of that mandate. Without academic accommodations, many students would be unable to access post-secondary education,” said Nora Simpson, the associate director of Accessible Learning Services at Humber’s North campus.
During standardized province testing in grades three, six and nine, students in an applied stream take different versions of the test than students in the academic pathway. Should a student fail the OSSLT exam, they can either rewrite it or they can register in a one-year course to make up the credit.