Board ‘pleased’ with literacy testing results

Peggy Revell

With a high participation and success rate, the Rainy River District School Board once again is happy with the results of this year’s Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).
“We’re pleased with our results,” said Director of Education Heather Campbell.
“We continue to have high levels of success on the OSSLT test,” she noted.
Written in spring of each year, the OSSLT is a province-wide standardized test which measures if students possess all of the reading and writing skills they’re expected to have acquired by the end of Grade 9, as per the Ontario curriculum.
Across the local public board, 93 percent of first-time eligible students participated in this year’s OSSLT testing.
Comparatively, 88 percent was the participation rate for 2006, 90 percent in 2007, 92 percent in 2008, and 95 percent in 2009.
The provincial average for participation this year was 93 percent.
Meanwhile, 82 percent of fully-participating students were successful in passing the test this year, down slightly from 84 percent in 2009, 83 percent in 2008, and 88 percent in both 2006 and 2007.
The average percentage of students across the province who passed was 84 percent.
“While we have a slight decrease of about two percent [in participation] from last year, we continue to stay strong in the success rate,” said Campbell.
“We’re especially pleased with the improvement in deferral rate,” she noted, when compared to the past five-year span.
“[Participation] is really important—the more students that get to write the test, therefore have a greater chance at success, because that test is a requirement for graduation.
“It just gives students more opportunities to ensure that they graduate,” she stressed.
“I thank the hard work of our school administrators and school staff, as well as the parents and students in preparing for the literacy test,” Campbell added.
“Our participation rates have remained really high, which speaks to the work of all stakeholders in sharing success for students.”
When breaking down the numbers for the board’s three schools, Fort Frances High School this year saw 92 percent of first-time eligible students fully participating in the OSSLT.
Some 82 percent of the students who fully participated in the testing were successful.
In past years, Fort High’s participation rates were 85 percent in 2006, 90 percent in 2007, 94 percent in 2008, and 93 percent in 2009.
Past success rates for the school were 89 percent, 84 percent, 81 percent, 86 percent, and 82 percent, respectively.
At Rainy River High School, this year’s participation rate was 94 percent, along with an 84 percent success rate.
Past participation rates were 100 percent in 2006, 90 percent in 2007, 79 percent in 2008, and 97 percent in 2009.
Past success rates at RRHS were 85 percent, 100 percent, 89 percent, and 83 percent, respectively.
Finally, Atikokan High School saw 97 percent of first-time eligible students participating fully this year, with an 87 percent success rate.
Past participation rates for AHS were 93 percent in 2006, 90 percent in 2007, and 100 percent in both 2008 and 2009.
The past success rates were 88 percent, 92 percent, 91 percent and 74 percent, respectively.
When it comes to making improvements on the testing participation and scores, Campbell said the board’s recent reinvestment with literacy assistants at the secondary level will help.
“‘Later Literacy’ is a one-to-one intervention that’s for our learners who are at risk in foundational literacy skills,” she explained.
“And it certainly has shown results in improving student success.”
As well, the local public board will continue to work within the “Student Success” initiative.
“We have transitionings between Grade 8 and 9, and certainly look to how students are doing in respect to reading and writing and literacy,” Campbell said, crediting the hard work of “Student Success” leaders, administrators, and classroom teachers in working with the elementary schools to “prepare students and give them that soft landing in Grade 9, and provide them with opportunities to improving their achievement in literacy and numeracy.”
While the OSSLT is meant to evaluate student success, it is just one of the many things the board uses.
“We always like to look at a great deal of data,” said Campbell. “We look at our report cards, we look at our attendance, we look at credit accumulation and credit success—all that data helps to determine our areas for need to continue growth.
“And that’s what we’re really all about—improving student achievement and closing the gap,” she stressed.
The OSSLT is overseen by the Education Quality and Accountability Office, which also oversees the annual standardized testing for Grades 3, 6, and 9 students.