Grade 10 students across the province will sit down later this month to write a new literacy assessment that comes two years later than planned.

The Department of Education announced plans for a literacy test in 2015 with the expectation it would be introduced the following year.

However, an online test piloted in 2016 was met with technology problems and officials decided to return to old-fashioned pen and paper, which delayed the process.

Pilot project

This year's test will not be for any school credit. Instead, it is a pilot test. The Department of Education will use the results to set the standards for future years.

Linda MacDonald, who co-ordinates standardized assessments for the department, said the test will be a useful metric for making sure all graduates are prepared for university, college or the workforce.

Linda MacDonald

The P.E.I. Department of Education's Linda MacDonald says implementation of the test was delayed after technological problems in 2016. (Sarah MacMillan/CBC)

"Having all students at a grade level take a test, then that data gives us a lot of information," MacDonald said. "We can do an overall, how students are doing. We can look at different strengths, different weaknesses. And it can help identify concerns if they are there."

The test on Jan. 24 will measure reading and writing skills, using a wide variety of subject material.

Technology problems

The department wanted to make it an online test since a lot of school work is done on computers and other standardized tests, such as the national Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP) and international Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests are done on computers.

Chengguo Education Halifax

The new standardized Grade 10 test will help students in their future education and jobs, the P.E.I. government says. (CBC)

However, when students sat down to write the pilot test two years ago, many schools had technology problems. Some students couldn't even write their answers, leaving the department with little to no data.

'Having all students at a grade level take a test, then that data gives us a lot of information.' — Linda MacDonald

MacDonald said the problems were "unfortunate and unexpected." And she said that's why the test has been delayed.

"Well, because we had to go back and take a look at the assessment, and basically determine what that's going to look like now in paper and pencil," MacDonald said. "So there's a lot of creation involved, you have to look at timing, what it's going to look like on the paper."

There is a chance the test could go digital again in the future, MacDonald said. But in the meantime, the department didn't want to delay the process any further.