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Grade 10 students must pass literacy test to graduate

Ken Johnston

A new test has strong implications for students attending Rainy River High School this year. It is the Provincial Grade 10 Secondary School Literacy Test.

RRHS principal Bob McGreevy said that while this is the second year for the test it is the first year that it needs to be passed by grade 10 students in order for them to graduate from high school.

RRHS English Teacher, Lori Armstrong, said that the test is implemented over a two day period in two components; reading and writing.

In the reading portion of the test students have to read different selections that include stories, informational articles, graphical items and maps. They are then asked questions at many different levels of difficulty.

In the writing section they will be asked to work with summaries, news reports and opinion style paragraphs.

The test is produced by the Ontario Education Quality and Accountability Office (OEQAO), which is arms length from the provincial government. It is standardized for all grade 10 students in Ontario’s public schools.

Armstrong said that it is fairly intense, but noted that this year the students have been preparing through review exercises since the beginning of the school year. They had to pass grade 9 english before taking the test.

There is also material available on the internet to help them study for it. The test will be conducted next Tuesday and Wednesday. It is then boxed and shipped to Toronto where the OEQAO will oversee the marking of it. Last year Armstrong travelled to Toronto to mark a portion of the test for a couple of days. She hopes to do the same again this year.

She noted that it is very interesting to see the ideas the students put

forth in the writing exercise.

Students do not receive a grade, they only get a simple pass fail mark. They have to pass both segments, reading and writing to pass the entire test. If they do not they will have to take it again later this school year. In the interim there are remedial programs to help them pass it the next time.

Last year the test saw RRHS students finish lower than the provincial average but slightly higher than the average across the Rainy River District School Board; which encompasses high schools in Fort Frances and Atikokan and Rainy River.

However, both McGreevy and Armstrong noted that there is a lot more preparation materials available this year for the students to use before the test. Based on that, the board of education is confident that test results will be stronger than last year.