English

With the implementation of the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) in 2002, Ontario became the first province in Canada requiring successful completion of a large-scale highstakes literacy test for high school graduation. We began to explore and analyze students' perceptions of this testing program in terms of their preparation for the test, the test's impact and value, and the potential influence of such a testing program on the students' views about literacy. Our study used qualitative data obtained through focus groups and interviews with students who were either successful or unsuccessful on the OSSLT. The students recalled specific test preparation for the OSSLT, often at the expense of their regular schooling. Following test instructions was a clear message to the students, leading to formulaic test responses and a narrowly expressed view of literacy. Potentially important differences were also found between the successful and unsuccessful students.

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