The ongoing battle between B.C. teachers and the Ministry of Education over the administering of Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) tests to Grade 4 and 7 students has heightened in a school year made more challenging by COVID-19.
With teachers and districts working hard to create safe learning environments for students and staff the GVTA was disappointed to learn the province did not cancel FSAs for this school year, said Greater Victoria Teachers Association president Winona Waldron.
“In a regular year we oppose the FSAs, particularly how they’re used. But in this year with the amount of anxiety and stress that teachers and students are already facing, it seems ludicrous to put in a standardized test at a different time of year than normal,” Waldron said.
The tests are initially held in the fall, but were delayed until January as schools worked to create safe learning environments for students. Now they are scheduled to occur between Feb. 16 and March 12.
According to a statement from the ministry, districts have been given more time to administer the tests to allow greater flexibility. It added that “students have always had the option of writing the FSA remotely if an appropriate invigilator for the assessment is approved by the local school principal.”
The GVTA, along with the B.C. Teachers Federation, has renewed calls to end FSAs with Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside taking over from Rob Fleming after the fall 2020 election. The GVTA is also asking the Greater Victoria School District board of education to petition the minister to do so.
While teachers remain steadfast in their disapproval of the current model of FSA testing, Waldron said, “we’d be willing to see some sort of standardized testing in a regular year, where the results weren’t published and the results were tied to funding.”
She added the methodology used in the FSAs doesn’t fit with the new curriculum and often contains elements not being taught in local classrooms. “That skews results in favour of those who are better at using technology and better at taking tests.”
Waldron said the GVTA plans begin its campaign soon to educate parents about the tests, options available for students and families, and how the information is used.
The ministry stated FSAs help ensure equity and quality education across the province.