Will they or won't they administer the test? That's a question that teachers' associations around the province are asking themselves after teachers voted 83 per cent to comply with a Labour Relations Board (LRB) ruling and end their boycott of the controversial foundation skills assessment (FSA) tests.
The B.C. Teachers' Federation (BCTF) took issue with the FSA and advised teachers not to administer the tests as the union claims the tests are a waste of time and money and do little to improve the overall educational experience of students. The tests are administered to Grade 4 and Grade 7 students and serve as one of the tools the Fraser Institute uses in their annual ranking of schools in the province.
This right-wing organization has come under fire by educators, parents and even Education Minister Shirley Bond, who has gone on record saying the Fraser Institute should not use FSA scores since they are not an accurate measuring stick of the effectiveness of schools.
The LRB, however, said that the boycott of the tests amounted to a strike, thus requiring the BCTF to end the boycott. And this controversy may not be over yet. Just because 83 per cent voted to end the boycott, does not necessarily mean that teachers will administer the tests. Some school boards have backed their teachers in this fight, while others are supporting teachers by saying you can administer the tests, but under protest, as a way of showing support without getting their wrists slapped.
The Sunshine Coast Teachers' Association has yet to respond to this latest news, and we'll just have to wait and see in the weeks that follow if the FSAs will be administered to Coast students.
But lost in all of this FSA fire is the basic, fundamental issue that is wrong with education in this province - funding. There would be no need for FSAs, LRB rulings and court challenges if the provincial government invested more money in the education system. More teachers, more resources, less crowded classrooms and more money would translate into more teaching time and a better education for our students. Then the Fraser Institute could take a more constructive look at schools without having to rely on a test that is not supported by the vast majority. Let our teachers do what they are hired to do - teach - and give them the tools they need to do their jobs effectively. That's what we all should be pushing for.