You Can’t Cancel The Redundancy!

Ah, the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT).  An annual event in which we sit down all the grade ten students across the province and spend four and a half million dollars to tell the ones who are already failing English that they can’t read or write very well.  It also fails the ones who might read and write well but have anxiety about writing tests, but highlighting their weaknesses is just an added bonus!

I think the monkey’s got it

Without this redundancy where would we be?  Does a standardized test create quality or accountability?

Of course it does!  The only real way to ascertain a student’s ability to read or write is to put them in an unfamiliar situation and then drill them with specific questions about subjects they may or may not know about in a test format not followed anywhere else in the curriculum.  Literacy is nothing if not a test of your ability to handle stress in unfamiliar situations.

Some say that the OSSLT is an empty bureaucracy created by an educationally bankrupt, long-gone provincial government in order to create the illusion of credibility.  This is obviously not true.  The OSSLT is a shining beacon of hope in an educational system that is in obvious crisis.  By population, Ontario is a key piece of the Canadian educational system, yet Canada’s poor performance in reading and the importance of literacy in all subject areas clearly necessitated this pedagogically vital and expensive standardized test.

To date we’ve spent well over fifty million dollars on this pivotal piece of our literacy puzzle!  Just because there is a financial crisis in Ontario and drastic cuts are needed so our government can financially justify supporting failing American car companies and banks, does not mean we should consider cancelling this pivotally important and expensive opportunity to further belittle our weakest students.

Without intentionally and clearly marking our literacy challenged students, we can’t hope to improve Ontario’s dismal performance in education.

In this case, the money doesn’t matter, it’s all about quality, accountability and the ongoing repairs to our crippled educational system.