October 11, 2017 2:15 am
Updated: October 11, 2017 12:51 pm

Hide FSA results so that outside groups don’t rank schools: B.C. school trustees

Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press
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Controversy has swirled around the province’s Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) test for years but this time, the BC School Trustees Association is asking the Ministry of Education to keep the 2017 results private.

BCSTA President Gordon Swan said he’s written a letter saying as much to Education Minister Rob Fleming.

Swan said the test – which measures reading, writing, and math – works to measure the public system as a whole but was never designed to measure individual schools for the purpose of ranking them.

“There’s some unnecessary damage to schools when you start ranking them,” Swan said.

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He said the FSA test limits schoolkids, adding that many disadvantaged students don’t do well on tests.

“We know that children in care of the Ministry of Children and [Familyi Development] don’t do as well in school. Giving them a test that may rank them doesn’t help them in that regard,” said Swan.

“A lot of parents equate test results sometimes to the overall intelligence or capability of their child and sometimes the student reflects that as well, but we know students grow at different rates.”

READ MORE: Nix standardized school testing, expert tells B.C.

He said schools in low-income neighbourhoods or communities are also ranked lower, regardless of the quality of their programs.

The education minister said it has received the letter and is reviewing the issue.

“The ministry will continue to provide confidential student-level FSA data to school districts. This provides the opportunity for immediate action to address students’ needs, and helps to build individualized education plans,” read a statement from the ministry.

The statement also said the Fraser Institute’s school ranking based on FSA results does not “accurately reflect students’ performance.”

“Hidden from the public”

But the Fraser Institute is firing back, arguing parents have every right to see the report cards it produces.

Peter Cowley, the think tank’s director of school performance studies says none of the critics have actually provided proof the report cards are harmful.

“What is really harmful is the idea of getting rid of measures, getting rid of public accountability. Without the report card, the truth about how individual schools are doing compared to others will be hidden from the public. And most particularly from the parents.”

Cowley said parents should have access to any and all measures available to see how students and schools perform in B.C.

He added that parents clearly want the information, because their website that publishes report cards in four provinces, including B.C., gets more than two million unique visitors each year.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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