Exploring Factors Associated With ESL/ELD Students’ Performance on the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test

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Zheng, Ying
English as Second Language (ESL) students , English Literacy Development (ELD) students , Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT)
The study explored factors associated with English as Second Language (ESL) and English Literacy Development (ELD) students’ performance on the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) from three different yet interrelated aspects. These aspects were the relationship between test performance and the characteristics of ESL/ELD students; the relationship between ESL/ELD students’ aggregated school performance and their school-level socio-economic status; and a comparison of ESL/ELD and non-ESL/ELD students’ performance on three test formats in the reading component of the OSSLT (multiple-choice questions, constructed-response questions, and constructed-response questions with explanations). The study was conducted based on 4,311 ESL/ELD students’ test data, their responses to the Educational Quality and Accountability Office’s (EQAO) Student Questionnaire, and the test results of 5,003 non-ESL/ELD students. School-level socio-economic status data from the Education Quality and Indicators Program (EQUIP) were merged with the OSSLT test data. These data were analyzed using exploratory factor analysis, multiple regression and discriminant analysis. The results indicated that e-literacy activities, literature literacy activities, non-fiction literacy activities, newspaper and magazine literacy activities, and literacy hours were positive predictors of ESL/ELD students’ performance on the OSSLT. Letter reading and writing, song and poetry literacy activities were two negative predictors. In terms of home language patterns, whether English was the first language of the test-takers, and what language(s) they spoke at home were both influential variables in differentiating ESL and ELD students’ literacy performance. The results also revealed that a higher parental education index positively predicted a school’s average OSSLT performance. In ii addition, ESL/ELD students demonstrated substantial performance gaps in all of the three test formats in reading as compared to non-ESL/ELD students. Only multiple-choice questions obtained a significant discriminant coefficient with a weak discriminating function. The results of this study offered some insights about identifying and understanding factors that were associated with ESL/ELD students’ OSSLT performance from the perspective of the test-takers and the test itself. The results also provide directions for future research and instructional support in relation to ESL/ ELD students in the context of the accountability framework in Ontario.
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