Friday, June 3, 2011

What's the Point?

In Ontario, every student is expected to take the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) in grade ten, and passing this test is mandatory for a student to receive a high school diploma.

Since the OSSLT is so important, schools need to ensure that their students are properly prepared for it, and one way that my school does so is by adding a "literacy component" in almost every grade ten class. The literacy component is basically a small portion of the mark that requires students to practice doing things that may be encountered in the actual literacy test, such as summaries and short essays.

Last week in math class, I started getting a series of assignments that are part of the literacy component. These included a short summary, an informational paragraph, as well as a short reading passage. And today, I got another one, which is writing a news report.

Hmm, this seems as if we are getting well prepared for the OSSLT right? No. Not at all. We have already written the OSSLT three months ago, and all these assignments are simply given so that we could have some entries in the literacy part of our mark!

To me this is not understandable. Doesn’t the teacher know that these assignments should be given before the OSSLT? Doesn’t he know that if we do these assignments after the literacy test, these assignments will just be meaningless and irrelevant to the class? What’s more, he is giving all these assignments when he isn't supposed to! During this time, only culminating activities are supposed to be given, and clearing these assignments are not part of the culminating activity! Also, if we need some entries for the literacy component, wouldn’t one or two assignments suffice?

I don't think putting a literacy component into grade ten classes is bad at all. In fact, I believe that even though the assignments in the literacy component can be annoying, they are actually beneficial to students because they allow students to be more familiar with the types of tasks that they may have to complete in the OSSLT. However, if teachers only give out the assignments after the OSSLT, the the whole purpose of the literacy component is defeated. I mean, isn't the sole purpose of the literacy component to prepare students for the OSSLT?