Chilliwack students will soon be taking the Foundational Skills Assessment (FSA), an annual test required by the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Black Press file photo)

Chilliwack students will soon be taking the Foundational Skills Assessment (FSA), an annual test required by the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Black Press file photo)

Chilliwack Teachers’ Association says Foundational Skills Assessment should be scrapped

The CTA objects to the test in general, but even moreso as students struggle with the pandemic

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation and Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA) want to forever banish the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA).

The test is given annually to Grade 4-7 students, and CTA president Ed Klettke says it “does not help students learn or teachers teach and takes valuable time and resources away from classroom learning.”

“The test undermines teachers’ ability to provide meaningful learning experiences for all students,” he said. “Research shows that other forms of assessment are more useful for broadly evaluating the educational system and its programs.”

Klettke also objects to the test being administered during the pandemic. Students are dealing with an increased workload, playing catch up after missing three months at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

RELATED: Fraser Institute report highlights improvements at Chilliwack and Agassiz schools

“The beginning of the 2020-21 school year has brought additional challenges due to the pandemic, such as high anxiety among students and issues around attendance,” Klettke noted. “Students cannot afford to lose any more meaningful instructional time doing assessments that do not impact their education.

“This test adds additional, unwarranted stress and anxiety to students who are already feeling the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

One parent of a Grade 4 student, who asked not to be named, agreed with Klettke’s take.

“It’s outrageous that they’re doing them this year,” the person said. “It’s a nonsense assessment to start with, but in the midst of a pandemic?”

The Chilliwack School District sent out a letter to parents of Grade 4-7 students, touting the value of the FSA test.

RELATED: Fraser Institute releases latest B.C. high school rankings

“Our district is committed to developing and using many effective instruments and practices that create a profile of each student’s performance,” wrote Rohan Arul-pragasam, Interim Superintendent of Schools. “The FSA provides a small but important snapshot of how well our students are doing in relation to Ministry (of Education) standards.

“When studied together with classroom-based assessments, the FSA helps us make decisions about district and school programs, staffing, resources and professional learning.”

The FSA is usually given in October/November but will hit desks in January/February this year.

The test covers reading, writing and numeracy skills and includes electronic and hand-written sections. Most students require one-and-a-half hours of writing time for each of the six components, and the results don’t count toward a student’s report card marks or promotion.

The Chilliwack School District letter made clear the FSA is not optional, and has been required by the Ministry of Education since 2000.

Klettke noted the results have been “misused” in an annual report by the Fraser Institute that ranks B.C. schools.

”The data does not result in additional funding or support for students, and rankings are published in newspapers,” he said. “The ongoing practice of ranking schools is harmful to students and staff. The best source of information about your child’s progress is their classroom teacher and not the FSA results.

“Teachers use a wide range of assessment tools in their classrooms to support student learning, which allows them to monitor progress and adjust their teaching to meet student needs. The FSAs are not a reliable method of measuring individual progress.”

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