The majority of Ontario high school students may be passing the province’s literacy test, but officials said yesterday the students failing showed early signs of struggle.

Figures released by the Education Quality and Accountability Office show 84 per cent of the 170,000 Grade 10 students who took the literacy test in April passed, while 16 per cent failed.

Most of the students who failed this year’s test had also struggled with the Grade 6 provincial test.

“I’d want to know what wasn’t done?” asked Marie Parsons, the testing office’s chief assessment officer, referring to the students who failed both the Grade 6 and Grade 10 tests.

Parsons said among the group that failed each time, more than half were boys and close to half had enrolled in an applied, non-academic course by the time they got to high school.

The testing office says it’s possible to raise the level of literacy among students. Of the more than 40,000 students who did not meet the standard in reading in Grade 6, for example, more than half were successful by Grade 10.