Superintendent of Schools/CEO Peter Jory discusses the upcoming FSA test
In the coming weeks, students in grade 4 and grade 7 will be participating in the Foundation Skills Assessment Test, also known as the “FSA”. This is a provincially mandated standardized test that uses broad metrics to determine whether students are meeting curricular expectations at grade level in literacy and numeracy.
Though it is a standardized test and subject to the same limitations as other standardized tests, we believe it provides important information on individual student learning. Used in conjunction with other forms of district and classroom assessments, the FSA helps provide a comprehensive picture as to how each student is doing, and gives critical feedback to school and district staff in regard to instruction.
In fact, during recent budget cycles SD83 has allocated additional resources to literacy and numeracy programs to address specific areas of concern revealed by the FSA testing processes. In past years, the FSA was scheduled for the end of the school year, then it was moved to the middle of the year, and now tests are administered near the beginning of the year. This change is to allow our students’ current classroom teachers maximum opportunity to use each student’s results to inform their instruction over the balance of the school year, and make sure their learning needs are being met.
The time spent on the FSA testing cycle amounts to approximately six hours in grade four, and another six hours in grade seven, not including practice. This amounts to just over one half of one per cent of their instructional time for that school year, with the two test cycles taking up just a tenth of a per cent of instructional time from kindergarten through grade twelve. We think that the FSA provides a tremendous amount of information given the time spent and that it is an incredibly efficient way to collect it.
We do agree with the BCTF perspective that the results have been misused by the Fraser Institute, and that it is both wrong and misleading to rank schools in this way. We do, however, believe the test is worthwhile is spite of this, and we would be in favour of using it even if it were not mandatory in our province’s schools.
If you remain unconvinced of the FSA’s importance and wish your grade four or grade seven student to be exempt from the testing process, please ask your school principal for an FSA testing schedule, then keep your child at home during the testing times. While we are not permitted to excuse a student from the FSA because of a parent request, parents always have the right to keep their child at home, and this right will be respected during FSA testing, as it always would be. As a courtesy in this regard, please note that I have asked the principals not to have students make up the tests at a later time if they were kept at home by parents for the purpose of test exemption.
Additional information from the Ministry of Education: