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Security breach postpones literacy test

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The Ontario government has called off province-wide Grade 10 literacy tests scheduled for this week after someone posted part of the test on a Web site.

More than 140,000 students were due to write the tests--a cornerstone of the Conservative government’s education overhaul--today and tomorrow.

“Because of the importance of this test to our students, its validity and credibility are paramount,” Education minister Janet Ecker said in a statement.

“A new test will be rescheduled as soon as possible.”

Ontario students are required to pass the literacy test to receive a high school diploma.

The government said it introduced the test to ensure students graduate with adequate reading and writing skills, as well as to give those who are falling behind time to make improvements.

Ecker said police had been called in to investigate the incident. As a result, she said she was unable to comment on details of the security breach.

It appeared the test was posted over the weekend on the Internet through a Web service that offers free space under the heading wegotthetest.

The tests are designed and distributed by the provincial Education Quality and Accountability Office and cost about $12.5 million to administer.

It was not immediately clear how much it would cost to reschedule the tests.

“It is appalling that someone is deliberately hurting our students by attempting to disrupt the test,” said Ecker. She said the action is “disruptive” to the school year and has affected the plans of students, parents, and teachers.

Liberal education critic Gerard Kennedy said the breach is “a metaphor” for the chaos in Ontario’s school system.

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