Parents received conflicting information from teachers and school boards on upcoming assessment exams this week, as education groups debate the merit of provincially-mandated testing.
School boards across the province – including in Coquitlam – sent out letters this week to parents noting that teachers will be conducting Foundation Skills Assessment tests in October.
The tests, known as FSAs, test students’ knowledge on reading, writing and numeracy. the tests are given to Grade 4 and Grade 7 students.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Teachers’ Federation also sent a letter reminding parents that they can opt their child out of the testing in the event of a family emergency, lengthy illness or other extenuating circumstances.
“As we have for the past several years, teachers are asking you to request that your children be excused from these tests,” federation president Teri Mooring said in the letter. “We believe that parents who make an informed decision to ask that their children not write the tests should have their wishes respected.”
The BCTF has denounced the annual assessment for years, claiming its an unreliable method of measuring a students progress.
“The FSA tests do not count toward your children’s marks and they do not help students learn or teachers teach,” Mooring said.
One of the biggest concerns with the tests are how the data from the tests are used. The BCTF argues that the right-leaning think tank Fraser Institute uses test results to “unfairly and inappropriately rank schools” each year, while also rarely resulting in more funding and resources to meet students’ needs.
In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, the ministry of education said it shared the concerns of parents, students and teachers about the use of test results by third-party groups, but argued the tests offer educators “with important early snapshots of student learning in the key areas of reading, writing and math in grades 4 and 7.”
“Assessments help to make better decisions for students – with daily planning, interventions, additional supports, and resource allocation,” the ministry said, adding that these tests are just one of many ways students are assessed as they advance through school.