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Ontario Comprehension Assessment (OCA). HWDSB OCA TRAINING. Objectives. Participants will: understand the design and purpose of the OCA understand how the OCA supports the development of student literacy by connecting to the research on proficient readers.

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Participants will:

  • understand the design and purpose of the OCA
  • understand how the OCA supports the development of student literacy by connecting to the research on proficient readers.
  • learn how to conduct the assessment
  • moderate student responses to questions in the OCA
  • connect the OCA to instruction
  • consider strategies for using the assessment with struggling readers.
general information
General Information
  • Grades 7-10
  • Informational Text
  • 2 Assessments per Grade
      • Initial Assessment
      • Later Assessment
  • Descriptive Feedback
key components
Key Components

Reading Passages

  • 35 copies of each text

Teacher Guide

  • “Front Matter”
  • Student Response Sheets (Early and Later Grades)
  • Answer Keys (Early and Later Grades)
  • Assessment Summary Sheet (Early and Later Grades)
  • Appendices (Curriculum Links, Implementation Models, Data Collection Options)
purpose of the oca
Purpose of the OCA

The primary purpose

of OCA is to:

  • help teachersplan for systematic comprehension instruction
  • help students learn more about themselves as readers
what the research says
What the Research Says

Assessment explicitly designed to promote learning is the single most powerful tool we have for raising achievement.

~ Black and Wiliam, 1998

aspects of reading
Aspects of Reading

The OCA is designed to provide students and teachers with descriptive feedback in three aspects of reading:

  • use of comprehension strategies
  • demonstrating understanding
  • analysis
proficient readers
Proficient Readers …
  • Set a Purpose for Reading
  • Access or Build Background Knowledge
  • Ask Questions
  • Determine What’s Important
  • Synthesize
  • Make Inferences
  • Make Connections
  • Visualize
  • Monitor Comprehension
reading expectations

Analyze Texts

Demonstrate Understanding



Reading Expectations

Retrieve Information (OSSLT skill, 1.4)

  • The reader locates information explicitly stated in the text.

Demonstrate Understanding (1.4)

  • The reader uses information provided in the text and reformulates it in her/his words – summarizing and citing details.

Make Inferences/Interpret Texts (1.5, OSSLT)

  • The reader integrates stated and implied ideas and information to explain an interpretation.

Analyze Texts (1.7, 2.1, 2.2)

  • The reader takes a stance, evaluating, connecting and explaining how the different elements in a text contribute to meaning and influence the reader’s reaction.

(Numbers refer to the Ontario Curriculum Reading expectations.)

Interpret Texts

question 5 metacognition
Question #5: Metacognition
  • Sub-strand in the revised Language and English curriculum.
    • By the end of Grade 7/8, students will: “reflect on and identify their strengths as readers, areas for improvement, and the strategies they found most helpful before, during, and after reading.”

Reading Overall Expectation #4

connecting across the curriculum
Connecting Acrossthe Curriculum
  • All teachers of all subjects, K-12, are teachers of literacy.
  • Literacy instruction must be embedded across the curriculum.
c onnecting across the curriculum
Connecting Acrossthe Curriculum

All teachers must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to model effective literacy skills in their subject area.

  • Guiding Principles from Think Literacy Success (2003)

Additional information on Making Connections Across the Curriculum are located in the OCA Teachers Guide p. 13 and p. 41.

oca how when
OCA: How? When?

Initial Assessment

  • Beginning of year or semester
  • Assessment FOR Learning
  • Where do I go with instruction?

Later Assessment

  • End of term or mid-point in semester, end of year
  • Assessment FOR or OF Learning
  • Has my teaching made a difference?
before the assessment
Before the Assessment

Before the assessment:

  • Plan to administer the first OCA early in the year
  • Plan for a 60 minute block of time
  • Administer the assessment to the whole class
  • Distribute the reading passage and the student response sheet
  • Ask students to answer Question 1 before reading
  • Give students 45 minutes to complete the assessment (students may receive additional time but should complete the assessment in a single sitting)
during the assessment
During the Assessment
  • Students answer questions independently
  • Allow extra time for students who need it
  • Students may complete the assessment on the black line masters, however, space limitations may make it preferable to have student given the option to complete on an attached page or computer print out of written work.
  • Students who normally receive accommodations or modifications for assessment tasks should continue to do so on the OCA
after the assessment
After the Assessment

After the assessment:

  • If possible, work in pairs or teams to moderate assessments and share instructional strategies to respond to results
  • Use a highlighter to mark criteria in rubrics or on the individual profile sheet
  • Plan next steps using information in the teachers guide.
teacher moderation1
Teacher Moderation

Getting Set Up…

  • Print off the sample student response.
  • Click on the link below to access student exemplars

Link to OCA exemplars

teacher moderation2
Teacher Moderation
  • With a partner, use the rubric and exemplars to assess the student response and use page 20 of the teacher’s guide to determine instructional next steps.
  • The following slides will walk you through the moderation process for each question.
question 1
Question #1
  • Are students previewing text to either build or access background knowledge before reading?
  • Are students asking themselves quality questions that set a purpose for reading?

Purpose and Connections

question 11
Question #1

Set a purpose Ask questions Predict

question 2
Question #2
  • Are students sorting and conceptualizing main ideas and supporting details?
  • Are students creating an accurate synthesis representative of important information in the text?

Purpose and Connections

question 21
Question #2

Find important ideas Summarize Make notes

question 3
Question #3
  • Are students reading between the lines and inferring and elaborating on ideas not directly stated in the text?

Purpose and Connections

question 31
Question #3

Infer Visualize Find important ideas

question 4
Question #4
  • Are students pushing their thinking beyond the information in the text and making meaningful connections that deepen their comprehension (text to self; text to text; text to world connections)?

Purpose and Connections

question 41
Question #4

Make connections Synthesize Evaluate

question 5
Question #5
  • Are students metacognitive and aware of strategies that could help them “fix” comprehension problems?

Purpose and Connections

question 51
Question #5

Reflect on strategies (Metacognition)

teachers guide resources
Teachers Guide Resources


  • Individual Profile (p. 44)
  • Group Profile (p. 45)
  • Class Profile (p. 46)
  • Disaggregating the Data (p. 47)
  • Synthesizing the Data (p. 48)
recording the data
Recording the Data
  • Rubric categories are titled by achievement chart categories from the Ontario Curriculum
  • Class Profile columns are titled based on the reading strategies/sub-aspects assessed.
  • This may require that the teacher use their professional judgement to determine an overall level by considering one or more of the achievement chart categories for some questions.
recording the data1
Recording the Data
  • Class Profiles are generic across the grades, not grade specific, so there may be extra columns in some grades.
recording the data2
Recording the Data
  • You may prefer to use the HWDSB electronic spreadsheets or create one that meets your specific needs.
hwdsb spreadsheet
HWDSB Spreadsheet
  • Add screen shot

… “most children who struggle to read do not require instruction that is substantially different from their more successful peers; rather, they require a greater intensity of higher quality instruction”.

- Snow, Burns, & Griffin (1998)

beers 2003
Beers (2003)

“There is not a single template for the struggling reader. We cannot make the struggling reader fit one mould or expect one pattern to suffice for all students”.

  • If a student struggles with reading grade level passages…the teacher may select a lower grade-level passage that is more appropriate.
  • The OCA Student Success Kit contains passages and strategies for the struggling reader as low as grade 4.
  • If a student struggles with reading lower grade-level passages, the assessment may be administered orally (as a documented accommodation) and the student could independently complete the written responses.

Please note that by reading the passage and questions orally to the student, the purpose of the OCA changes to a listening comprehension assessment, which is an indicator for potential growth in reading comprehension.

  • If the student struggles with written output…the student may be scribed for as a documented accommodation.
assistive technology
Assistive Technology
  • The use of assistive technology such as word processing, “Dragon” (speech to text) or “Premier” (text to speech) software may be an appropriate support for students struggling with reading and written output.
  • If the student struggles with processing information…the teacher may simplify the language or chunk the assessment as a documented accommodation.
  • When a student struggles with maintaining focus…the student may complete the assessment in an alternate setting and/or complete the assessment in stages.

In short, students on IEP’s are entitled to whatever modification or accommodations have been deemed necessary in the creation of the IEP and are part of the student’s regular instruction.


The objectives of this training module were for participants to:

  • understand the design and purpose of OCA
  • understand how OCA supports the development of student literacy by connecting to the research on proficient readers
  • Moderate student responses to questions in OCA
  • Connect OCA to instruction
  • Consider strategies for using the assessment with struggling readers.
additional supports
Additional Supports
  • Your Administrator
  • Program Consultants (elementary and secondary)
  • Literacy Improvement Project Teachers
  • Pearson Publisher Representative
  • Ministry of Education Guides to Effective Instruction; Volume One, Foundations and Volume Five, Reading.
  • Ministry of Education Think Literacy Guides
important links
Important Links
  • Link to Bruno’s tool
  • Link to publisher exemplars
  • Link to ministry guides
thank you for your time participation

When learning is the goal, teachers and students collaborate and use ongoing assessment and pertinent feedback to move learning forward.

- Earl & Katz (2006)

Thank you for yourtime & participation!