BCTF, teachers call for end to Foundation Skills Assessment for grades 4 to 7

Click to play video: 'Calls to end the Foundation Skills Assessment test'
Calls to end the Foundation Skills Assessment test
The controversial Foundational Skills Assessments test is once again in the spotlight. The Surrey Teachers Association and the B.C. Teachers' Federation say it's time to say scrap the test. But as Richard Zussman reports, schools are making it more difficult to opt out – Oct 11, 2023

The B.C. Teachers Federation is once again calling for an end to the Foundation Skills Assessment.

The test, known as FSA, is administered province-wide to all Grade 4 and 7 students across B.C.

The results do not impact grades and are used by the province to collect data.

The BCTF says the test is simply a waste of time and is concerned the province is making it harder for students to opt-out.

Clint Johnston, president of the BCTF, told Global News that there seems to be more emphasis this year on making sure students write the test.

“It’s concerning for us because we think that the best judge probably of whether a child’s, you know, stress and anxiety, comfort with writing a test like this, that really is only for the education system (and) is not for their success, it’s not for their marks, it’s not for their education path.”

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Johnston said it should be the decision of the parent’s whether their child writes the test.

“It shouldn’t be problematic to respect that decision and have the child just carry on learning and doing the assessments they do in class, which really show progress and really let them know where they’re at,” he added.

Click to play video: 'B.C. teachers urge boycott of foundation skills assessment tests'
B.C. teachers urge boycott of foundation skills assessment tests

In an open letter Wednesday, The Surrey Teachers’ Association called on the Surrey School Board and the B.C. government to “stop wasting resources on FSAs and instead focus on the impacts of overcrowding in schools, insufficient student learning supports, and a profound shortage of professional educators.

“At a time when there are students without classrooms and a dearth of learning supports for students struggling to learn, it’s unconscionable that precious learning and teaching resources are taken up by standardized tests that are not included in report cards and that do not result in any direct benefits to the Grade 4 and Grade 7 students writing them,” president of the Surrey Teachers’ Association, Jatinder Bir, stated in the letter.

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The teachers’ association also said that data from the tests is used to “rank schools and that ranking is then used by realtors to sell houses.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. First Nations and BC Teachers Federation square off over provincial exams'
B.C. First Nations and BC Teachers Federation square off over provincial exams

However, the B.C. Ministry of Education and Child Care told Global News in a statement that the Student Learning Assessment Order requires boards and district staff to ensure the assessments are administered and information collected according to assessment protocols.

It said assessment accommodations are available for students if needed and as documented in a student’s Individual Education Plan.

“School principals can only exempt students from writing the FSA in limited circumstances, including a family emergency, a lengthy illness, or other extenuating circumstances which would prevent a student from writing the assessment,” the ministry said.

It also added that ranking schools based on FSA results does not provide a full picture of student success and can stigmatize and marginalize school communities.

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School-level FSA results are only available to school and district administrators and beyond that, must be requested through a Freedom Of Information request.

The ministry said the intended use of the results is to provide feedback and better understand learning needs and potentially identify students who need more support.

Johnston said the BCTF would like to see every parent opt out of the test and that would force the government to assess how helpful the test is and perhaps come up with something that is more helpful.

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