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Online literacy test cancelled due to technical issue

CityNews | posted Friday, Oct 21st, 2016

A test of a test has failed.

High school students across Ontario were attempting to take a standardized literacy test online for the first time on Thursday but encountered a “technical issue.”

The Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO), which oversees testing, was conducting a test of its new online assessment program at up to 900 high schools across the province.

However, just before 9 a.m. on Thursday, the EQAO said it was “experiencing a minor technical issue with the online OSSLT network, which is causing [a] system lag.”

Then, around 11:30 a.m., the agency tweeted that the test was cancelled altogether due to “widespread technical issues.” It also posted a message on its website.

“We regret to inform you that we have cancelled today’s assessment,” the tweet read.

The EQAO said it was “disappointed at the outcome of this trial” and issued an apology.

“When you’re looking at 10:45 in the morning and you’ve got students in classrooms, we really don’t know what the issue is. We can’t have students and teachers just basically sitting around waiting for a test to start that may never start today,” EQAO director Richard Jones said of the decision to cancel the test.

The voluntary test was a trial to see if the EQAO and the schools were ready to support online assessments, and it was billed as a “risk-free” way for students to take it ahead of the next scheduled assessment in March 2017.

Jones said there will also be a paper version of the test on standby should any issues arise.

Initially, if students passed the online test, it would count, but if they failed or didn’t complete it, they would be considered “first-time eligible” for the test next spring. That is no longer the case, as the test was cancelled and the students’ scores were not affected.

There were supposed to be two sittings for the test, each comprised of two 75-minute sessions. The program was open to all 72 school boards, as well as First Nations and private schools.

This is not the first time the province has experienced an issue with its systems.

Earlier this month, a technical glitch at Service Ontario caused problems for those using driver and vehicle services. However, other online services were still available.

Related stories:

Half of Ontario Grade 6 students failed to meet provincial math standard

81 per cent of Ontario Grade 10 students passed literacy test: EQAO

With files from Charlene Close


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