Teachers renew FSA objections

Foundational Skills Assessment Tests aren’t accurate, constrain teaching time and are misused, said Ken Zydyk, president of the Alberni District Teacher’s Union.

Alberni District Teacher's Union President Ken Zydyk prepares material on the Foundation Skills Assesment

Foundational Skills Assessment Tests aren’t accurate, constrain teaching time and are misused, said Ken Zydyk, president of the Alberni District Teacher’s Union.

The provincially mandated Foundational Skills Assessment Test (FSA) is being administered provincewide to students in Grades 4-7 starting Jan. 18, renewing annual objections to the test.

“The results don’t accurately reflect students’ abilities,” Zydyk said.

According to School District 70 superintendent Cam Pinkerton, the test consists of multiple choice and written response questions.

Test results provide a snapshot of students’ academic performance and are benchmarked against provincial standards.

The results are made public afterward.

“Parents have access to their child’s results and they’re used internally in the district as well,” Pinkerton said.

The test isn’t a be-all-end-all though.

“The FSA provides a snapshot of specific skills only,” Pinkerton noted in a letter home to parents.

“It is not a thorough examination over time of all desired learning outcomes for students.”

The test is one of several assessment tools the district uses during the year.

The FSA results are used to evaluate education programs, and also to adjust them accordingly.

While the data may be cross-referenced with other schools, demographic context needs to be heeded or the test is moot.

“The use of FSA results in ranking schools has no validity,” Pinkerton noted.

The test is only given once a year and in a manner that doesn’t encompass students’ varied learning styles, Zydyk said.

Computers in classrooms, libraries and computer labs are used to administer the test, displacing students who use them for other purposes.

Most troubling to the union however is school rankings based on the results of a test given once a year.

“That’s like ranking NHL teams based on one game in January,” Zydyk said.

“It doesn’t accurately depict the schools and is an inappropriate use of the data,” Zydyk said.

The union suggests returning to random sample tests that were given in the past, the results of which weren’t published, Zydyk said.

No alternatives to the provincially mandated test have been discussed, Pinkerton said.

Report card…Collective bargaining is poised to start between teachers and the provincial government. Locally, Ken Zydyk, Richard Pesic and Brian Lavery are bargaining for the ADTU.


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