The foundation skills assessment (FSA) is an annual assessment of B.C. students in grades 4 to 7. It is designed to evaluate student progress with reading, writing and numeracy. It is also purported to help the province and school districts plan improvements.
Opponents, however, contend that the FSA is a waste of resources — time and money, and that results are used to unfairly rank schools (the Fraser Institute) and to promote privatization. Let’s think about the perils of test-driven curricula and the truth that instead of assisting in efforts to offer the best education to all, standardized testing is most damaging for low-income and minority students. Do high test results indicate that students are thinking beyond a superficial level?
Like any politically-driven initiative, the FSA deserves to be questioned. Are we testing at the expense of learning? At the expense of valuing the high quality of public education that teachers provide? Do arts, sports, and creativity matter less than reading and writing?
The B.C. School Trustees Association supports public education. It recently passed a motion endorsing a course of action that would do away with the FSA and promote work toward more appropriate alternatives. Our school and district reports, for example, offer comprehensive information about student progress. Let’s call for meaningful measures of student learning and quality of schools — including parents simply talking to their child and their child’s teacher.
The FSA does not count toward students’ grades. And it does not support learning. As a parent you may contact the school principal to exempt your child from participating. Let’s work together to demand meaningful allocation of resources that ensures that every school is “the best”.
President, Sunshine Coast Teachers’ Association