Now, especially, Delta schools should be putting off having their students write the standardized Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests.
That’s what B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Teri Mooring is telling parents in the province in an open letter this week, saying the upcoming tests take time away from meaningful teaching and learning, create needless stress and anxiety and the results are used to inappropriately rank schools.
The FSA is an annual province-wide assessment of all B.C. students’ academic skills in grades 4 and 7.
Asking parents to exercise their right to withdraw their children from writing the tests, Mooring said school districts and administrators have come under intensified pressure from the Ministry of Education to boost participation rates, often against the wishes of parents and caregivers.
“There was nothing normal about the last school year or the one we are currently in. Teachers, students, and families have been forced to constantly adjust to changing rules and conditions," she said in the open letter to parents. "It has been tough on everyone. We shouldn’t be adding to the issues and challenges our students and teachers are facing. With everything going on, we believe students’ physical, mental, and emotional health should come before data collection.
“A global pandemic is no time to force young students to take a stressful standardized test on shared computers when very little benefit, if any at all, ever comes from the results. In addition, the FSAs are not a reliable measurement of individual progress.”
The pandemic is impacting students and families in many different ways and some families have experienced personal loss while others are experiencing economic hardship, wrote Mooring, noting that, as a consequence, data from the standardized test will be skewed, flawed, and of no use to teachers.
She added if parents are concerned about how their children are doing in school, they are encouraged to talk to their classroom teachers.
The Delta school board has also questioned the effectiveness of the tests, also noting the FSA data is being misconstrued by a third party in the Fraser Institute for a controversial annual ranking of B.C. schools.
The school board last fall agreed to initiate partner consultations to elicit feedback about the FSA and what forms of assessment they feel would better serve students in the district.