TORONTO -- Widespread technical issues have forced Ontario's Education Quality and Accountability Office to pull the plug on an online voluntary literacy test for high school students.

The agency, which oversees standardized testing, was conducting the first provincewide trial of its new online assessment program at up to 900 high schools across the province this morning.

Shortly after the test got underway, the agency posted a tweet saying the test was being cancelled due to technical issues and apologized to participating schools and students for the failure.

The voluntary test was meant to serve as a trial of the technical readiness of the EQAO and the schools to support online assessments, and a "risk-free" way for students to take it ahead of the next scheduled assessment in March 2017.

If students passed the online test, it would count, but if they failed or didn't complete it, they would be considered "first-time eligible" for the test next spring.

The program was open to all 72 school boards, as well as First Nations and private schools.

"We recognize all of the work that schools have done to prepare for this trial," the agency said in a tweet. "We are disappointed at the outcome of this trial and sincerely apologize for this development."