The results from the 2010 Foundations Skills Assessment, released on the second last day of school, show more parents than ever before share our concerns about the controversial tests, said BC Teachers’ Federation President Irene Lanzinger.
“Teachers believe the Foundation Skills Assessment test is not an appropriate measure of student progress and actually takes time away from meaningful teaching and learning,” said Lanzinger. “More parents than ever before pulled their children out of these controversial tests because they do not see the value of the results. And, to release the results on the second last day of school suggests the minister of education is struggling to find examples of their usefulness too. What are teachers and school communities supposed to do with results for Grade 7 students when the children are already out the door and on to a brand new secondary school?”
This year, the momentum against standardized testing continued to build as an unprecedented number of parents responded to the BCTF’s awareness campaign. In Vancouver, 37% of Grade 4 students did not write the test and 39% of Grade 7 students were withdrawn. In Sooke, 29% of Grade 4 students were withdrawn and 40% of Grade 7 students did not write the FSAs.
“The government’s standardized testing agenda is not working,” said Lanzinger. “Teachers believe in assessment, but want to work with education partner groups to develop alternatives to the census-based administration of FSAs. We have called on the government numerous times to administer the tests on a random-sample basis. That would allow the ministry to track student progress across the province and prevent the Fraser Institute from unfairly ranking schools. Random sampling would also ensure teachers are not pressured to teach to the test at the expense of other learning opportunities.”
In her release on the 2010 FSA data, Margaret MacDiarmid complained that “student achievement has reached a plateau” and that the system “must find new and innovative approaches to student learning.” Teachers across BC agree that the minister’s way of doing things isn’t working.
“If the minister is worried about achievement, she should look at what she is doing to the state of education funding in BC,” said Lanzinger. “She has frozen the budget of 33 school districts, downloaded millions in extra costs, and is now forcing school districts to close more schools and displace more students. The provincial government’s cuts mean larger class sizes, less support for children with special needs, more school closures, and fewer specialists like ESL and teacher-librarians.
“If the minister wants to help teachers teach and students learn, she should test less and invest more.”