In the first five articles in this series, we took a look at the overview of the OSSLT, the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. We examined student perspective and assessed the impact the exam has in their life and heard their thoughts on the subject. We surveyed a Canadian journalist's investigation into the effectiveness of the exams and accompanied her as she strove to get at the truth about the OSSLT. In this five-part article series, we will be examining the course that prepares students to take the exam. Will its effectiveness be called into question? Will Canadians have cause to sleep well at night knowing that their state has provided the best possible option for their children? Or will it be a different story? Only time will tell. Let's begin our trip.
We'll begin by looking at the text of the Course Description. What I am about to show you is the exact text from a .PDF file found at http://resources.curriculum.org/csc/library/profiles/12/literacy.shtml, the official website for the CSC.
"CSC" stands for Curriculum Services Canada. They are the Pan-Canadian standards agency for quality assurance in learning products and programs. A brief look at their credentials shows that they are an incorporated, not-for-profit organization that provides services including the development, implementation, evaluation, and accreditation of teaching and learning resources, and the delivery of professional learning opportunities online, using multimedia and social networking. Sounds legitimate. You can never be too careful these days.
My former business partner used to say "Always do your due diligence!" Is extensive due diligence it a sign that we don't trust each other any longer? Or is it a sign that we want to get things done correctly the first time and avoid creating hassles and frustration. I prefer the second spin on the subject and want to give my readers well-examined and stress-tested data before they read on.
Here is the text of course description:
"This course is designed to help students acquire and demonstrate the cross-curricular literacy skills that are evaluated by the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test. Students who complete the course successfully will meet the provincial literacy requirement for graduation. Students will read a variety of informational, narrative, and graphic texts and will produce a variety of forms of writing, including summaries, information paragraphs, opinion pieces, and news reports. Students will also maintain and manage a literacy portfolio containing a record of their reading experiences and samples of their writing."
The course claims that by completing it, not only are students ready to take the OSSLT, they will meet the literacy requirement for graduation. This doesn't make any sense! Why do they need to take the test if this course furnishes them with the graduation requirement necessary? Also, how come this course description does not mention that the students will graduate ready to go to university? Isn't that the point of secondary education? To prepare students for university education? These are common questions that plague public and private education on a daily basis. It seems that given these rough economic times, the foundation has become unhinged and we are not sure of our purpose. It is as if we have lost our compass and are not sure which way we are going.
In the next article, we will look at several other facets of the OSSLC and hold them up to the microscope. Let's see if they stand up to reason and to our expectations of what is best for our children and our community.