Impact of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) on Second Language Students

Collaborative scholarship in assessment, evaluation, and knowledge mobilization

Impact of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) on Second Language Students

The purposes of the SSHRC-funded study are of three folds: 1) examine ESL/ELD students’ OSSLT performance; 2) investigate the potential influence of OSSLT on the learning of this group of students; and 3) explore the factors that contribute to or impede ESL/ELD students’ OSSLT performance and their academic success in Ontario secondary schools. The study was undertaken over two phases. The first phase investigated the characteristics of the OSSLT and test-takers’ OSSLT performance by analyzing the results of the OSSLT and EQAO-Student Questionnaire (EQAO-SQ) by comparing ESL/ELD with non-ESL/ELD students (n=8000). Only by examining both groups can the nature of OSSLT challenges specific to ESL/ELD students be fully understood. The second phase investigated the impact of OSSLT on ESL/ELD student academic learning in schools through three interrelated research strategies of tracking, focus groups and a questionnaire survey over a three-year period. This phase was conducted in three school boards in Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto, where there have been increasing numbers of ESL/ELD students and involved more than 600 ESL/ELD and non ESL/ELD students. Taken together, the results provide an in-depth comprehensive view of the impact of OSSLT on ESL/ELD students. The findings also provide information on features of their academic learning and be of potential benefit to them by identifying those ESL/ELD students most at risk of failure.

Funding: SSHRC

Lead Investigator: Dr. Lying Cheng

Select Publications

Cheng, L., & Sun, Y. (2015). Interpreting the impact of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test on second language students within argument-based validation framework. Language Assessment Quarterly, 12,50–66. https://doi.org/10.1080/15434303.2014.981334

Cheng. L., Fox, J., & Zheng, Y. (2007). Student accounts of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test: A case for validation. Canadian Modern Language Review, 64, 69-98.

Fox, J., & Cheng, L. (2007). Did we take the same test? Differing accounts of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test by first and second language test takers. Assessment in Education, 14, 9-26.

Cheng, L., Klinger, D., & Zheng, Y. (2007). The challenges of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test for second language students. Language Testing, 24(2), 185-208.

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