Once again, the Ministry of Education is subjecting students and schools to another round of the Foundation Skills Assessments (FSA). Teachers continue to oppose this form of testing, as it undermines classroom assessment and has a negative impact on student motivation and learning.
This week, parents of Grades 4 and 7 students will receive an envelope from the Prince George District Teachers' Association. It will contain two pamphlets informing them of teachers' concerns with the provincially mandated FSA tests. One pamphlet will have a tear-off form that parents can fill in, should they choose to do so, and send it back to their child's school, withdrawing their child from writing this test.
These pamphlets are being sent home with the agreement of the BCTF, the school district and BCPSEA. As stated in a past legal decision on Freedom of Expression, teachers have both the right and the responsibility to discuss any information regarding the state of public education in the province with parents. Just as importantly, parents have the right to receive this information to help form their own opinions on public school issues that affect their children.
Once this form is sent back to the school, parents may receive a phone call from the school principal, or a letter from School District 57, explaining why their child needs to/must write this tests. Parents have the right, as parents always have, to change their position on their child writing the test, or to simply restate that their child will not be writing the FSA.
FSA tests are expensive to develop and administer, they do not help students learn or teachers teach, and they take valuable time away from richer and more meaningful learning. The data does not provide real help to students, parents or schools, and the results are misused to rank schools and promote privatization. Teachers encourage parents to be informed and to make decisions that are best for their child and for public education.
Linda Naess, President
Prince George District Teachers' Association.