5 ways parents can help their teen succeed on the Literacy Test

The Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) will take place on Oct. 20 this year. Most Grade 10 students will write it. For the first time, the test will be completed online. It will take place at school on school computers. Students have three hours to complete it. Only the students writing the OSSLT will be at school during the test—we have modified the school day.

The test evaluates students’ ability to read, understand, and communicate their thoughts. Teachers are helping students prepare for the test by providing regular activities and feedback.

There are things parents can do to help too. Here are five tips to help your teen prepare to write the literacy test:

  1. Encourage your teen to complete the practice test on the Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) website. Why not try the test out yourself? Then you and your teen can talk about it.
  1. Suggest your teen practices the areas of the test that require a written response. There are sample question and answer booklets available on the EQAO website.
  1. Encourage your teen to practice regularly. The test evaluates their literacy skills across the Ontario Curriculum of all subjects up until the end of grade 9, so the work they have been doing in all classes has been preparing them for the test. The additional practice will help them feel confident on test day.
  1. Encourage your teen to talk to a teacher if they’re feel unsure about the test or have questions about what to expect. Keeping open lines of communication will help school staff address any issues before test day.
  1. Do what you can to make sure your teen sleeps well the night before the test. A nutritious breakfast will also help prepare their mind and body for the three-hour task. And your words of encouragement and support will help too.

The OSSLT is a graduation requirement. Like you, we want your teen to be successful on their first attempt. By working together with the school and your teen, you can help increase the chance of success.

But—don’t worry—if your teen isn’t successful, there are more opportunities. Students who are not successful in October can write the test again on March 30, 2017 either online or on paper. The October test will not count as a failed attempt. This is because the Oct. 20 date was added this year since it’s the first time the test will be completed online, rather than with a paper booklet.

List of Dos & Don'ts for the OSSLT

Commit to Character: Cooperation

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as our character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month on the blog, we are highlighting ‘cooperation’.

Cooperation: We work together towards shared goals and purposes

Some examples of how we can be cooperative are:

  • listening to others
  • sharing with others
  • taking turns when more than one person wants something
  • compromise when there is a conflict
  • be supportive of other people’s ideas

Some ways that students in our schools learn about and develop cooperation include:

  • using newspaper or magazine articles to find examples of individuals working together towards a common goal
  • after reading a recent book, have students discuss or write about examples of cooperative effort. Are there any places in the book where cooperation might have made a difference?

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” – Henry Ford

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB. 

Commit to Character: Caring

The SCDSB’s 10 values are a key part of our commitment to character education. We refer to our values as character attributes. Each month our schools recognize and celebrate a different attribute. This month on the blog, we highlight ‘caring’.

Caring: We show kindness towards each other

Some examples of how we can be caring:

  • treat people with kindness and generosity
  • help those in need
  • be sensitive to the feelings of others
  • don’t be mean/hurtful
  • think about how your actions will affect others
  • be polite
  • apologize when you need to

Some ways that students in our schools learn about and develop caring include:

  • brainstorm about “Random Acts of Kindness” and discuss how they affect other people and yourself personally
  • select someone who has demonstrated caring towards you and write a letter of thanks and recognition to that person

“We should behave to our friends as we wish our friends to behave to us.” – Aristotle

Learn more about character education in the SCDSB. 

Dabble: What’s in your lunch bag?

What's in your lunch bag?Children are going back to school next week and that means a return to the daily routine of packing lunches.

To help spark some lunch ideas we asked members of the Communications Team to bring in a lunch that they’d send with their child. There was only one rule: it had to be made with items we had on hand. Here’s what we came up with:

Lunch one:IMG_2387_web

  • yogurt drink
  • ham and cheese
  • crackers
  • grapes
  • carrots
  • popcorn
  • cheese grits tots (learn to make these yummy bites of deliciousness)

Lunch two:IMG_2391_web

  • granola bar
  • apple
  • grapes
  • crackers
  • yogurt
  • bean salad (make this salad by combining a bean mix or chickpeas with tomatoes, cucumbers, salt, pepper and lemon juice)

Lunch three:IMG_2399_web

  • turkey, lettuce, cucumber and mayo wrap
  • crackers and cheese
  • yogurt
  • strawberries
  • carrots and tzatziki dip

Additional tips:

  1. Pack a reusable water bottle. This is a great alternative to sugary drinks.
  2. Pack enough food to last 2 nutrition breaks.
  3. Practice opening and closing food containers.
  4. Label your child’s belongings including lunch bag, water bottle and food containers.
  5. Pack a waste-free lunch by letting nature wrap your food for you! Oranges, bananas, apples and hard-boiled eggs all come in their own handy packaging.

Looking for more inspiration?  Check out 6 healthy school lunch ideas your kids will actually eat, Earth-conscious + health-conscious lunch ideas and tips for packing a waste-free lunch.

~ Jamie Campbell, Communications Officer, SCDSB

Dabble: ‘First day of school’ sign

Create a reusable chalk board sign to mark the first day of school!


Here’s what you need:

  • chalkboard
  • chalk
  • paint (optional)


  1. Prepare your chalkboard. If the frame on your board is plain (like ours), let your child paint it. Have them refresh the board each year by redecorating it.
  2. Write on your chalkboard. Here are some headings to consider including on your sign:
    • ____’s (name) first day of ____ (grade)
    • #SCDSBfirstday
    • Date
    • I am ___ years old
    • When I grow up I want to be a ____
    • My favourite colour is ____
  3. Have your child hold the sign for a photo on their first day of school. Don’t forget to share it with us on Twitter (@SCDSB_Schools), Facebook and Instagram (/SCDSB) using #SCDSBfirstday for your chance to win a SCDSB prize pack!


If you’d rather skip the chalkboard, we’ve created a printable sign template for your child to colour in before the first day!


~ Jamie Campbell, Communications Officer, SCDSB