Teachers on the Coast are sending home letters recommending students be withdrawn from the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) testing while School District No. 46 (SD46) is stressing its importance this week.
Students in grades 4 and 7 are required to take the testing, mandated by the province, unless a family emergency, lengthy illness or other extenuating circumstance keeps them from it.
The results of the FSA testing are used to assess the reading, writing and numeracy skills of students; however, the test doesn’t count for report card marks.
“It is a snapshot of how each child is performing on a given day,” superintendent of schools Patrick Bocking wrote in a letter sent home to parents recently.
He told Coast Reporter this week the snapshot is used by the province to “make plans for improvement” and by SD46 to focus on individual students who might need help in the fundamental areas of reading, writing and numeracy.
Parents are also provided with a copy of the marks for their information.
Teachers have major concerns with the testing, one of which is the use of results to rank schools by the Fraser Institute.
“FSA results are misused by a private organization [the Fraser Institute] to rank schools based on a very restricted, snapshot, mid-year measure,” said Sunshine Coast Teachers’ Association (SCTA) president Louise Herle. “This is misleading to parents and can be damaging for schools. There are parents on the Sunshine Coast who have actually moved their children to another school based solely on the narrow results of the Fraser Institute ranking. This is like comparing all NHL hockey teams based on one game in February.”
Another issue for teachers is the time the FSA testing takes away from classroom instruction and “meaningful learning experiences,” Herle said.
Bocking noted the testing, which needs to wrap up by Feb. 22, takes about 4.5 hours and schools can organize it in whatever way works best.
“FSA results can supplement the discussion about a child’s progress between parents and teachers. However, it is well recognized that ongoing assessment of a child’s learning by the teacher is the most vital piece of information to share between teachers and parents,” he said.
“This is an additional piece of information that may be of interest to parents.”