The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test

All students who enter Grade 9 in the 1999-2000 school year or in subsequent years must successfully complete the provincial secondary school literacy test in order to earn a secondary school diploma. Students will normally take the literacy test when they are in Grade 10. The test will be based on the Ontario curriculum expectations for language and communication – particularly reading and writing – up to and including Grade 9. The test will serve both to determine whether students have acquired the reading and writing skills considered essential for literacy, and to provide confirmation that those students who have completed the test successfully have attained the provincial expectations for literacy. The test will identify those students who have not demonstrated the required skills and will identify areas in which these students need remediation. School boards are required to provide remedial assistance for students who do not compete the test successfully. This assistance should be designed to help students improve their skills so that they are better prepared to retake the literacy test. Once students have successfully completed the literacy test, they may not retake the test in the same language (i.e. English or French).

Students who have not been successful on the OSSLT and have been eligible to write it at least once, may take the OSSLC Literary Course in lieu of rewriting the test in order to achieve the literacy standard.

OSSLT Accommodations, Deferrals, and Exemptions


The necessary accommodations must be made to ensure that students who are receiving special education programs and services and who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) have a fair and equal opportunity to successfully complete the secondary school literacy test. Students needing such accommodations may or may not have been formally identified as exceptional by an Identification, Placement, and Review Committee (IPRC). The accommodations made will be the same as those that are set out in the student’s IEP and/or that are available to the student in the course of his or her regular school work, including examinations and other forms of evaluation. While accommodations such as alternative forms of print and extra time are acceptable, the actual content of the secondary school literacy test must not be altered.


Students who might benefit from a deferral from the test may include students who have been identified as exceptional and students registered in English as a second language/English literacy development (ESL/ELD) courses, who have not yet acquired the level of proficiency in English required for successfully completing the test.

If a parent requests a deferral, the principal will determine whether or not a deferral should be granted and, if so, for what period of time. A principal may also initiate consideration of a deferral. The principal will make his or her decision in consultation with the parent or adult student and appropriate school staff.


A student whose IEP indicates that a student is not working toward the attainment of a secondary school diploma may, with parental consent and the approval of the principal, be exempted from participating in the secondary school literacy test. Students who do not successfully complete the literacy test will not be able to receive a secondary school diploma. Should the learning expectations contained in the student’s IEP be revised at some point to allow the student to work towards the attainment of the secondary school diploma, the student would be required to successfully complete the secondary school literacy test.