Teachers express concerns over standardized tests

The Revelstoke Teachers’ Association on Jan. 20 provided the following opinion piece about FSA testing:

By Bill MacFarlane

Revelstoke Teachers’ Association

The Revelstoke Teachers’ Association on Jan. 20 provided the following opinion piece about FSA testing:

“With the FSA tests for students grades 4 and 7 slated to begin soon, Revelstoke teachers will be encouraging parents to withdraw their children from taking the tests,” said Revelstoke Teachers’ Association president, Bill MacFarlane.

“Teachers here and across BC do not believe the Foundation Skills Assessment is an appropriate measure of student learning,” added MacFarlane.

The campaign to encourage parents to withdraw their students from taking the tests will include media ads and pamphlets that will be going home to parents. The ads and information sent home outline the concerns teachers have with the FSA tests and provide a form letter for parents to use to ask that their child be excused from writing the tests. The forms are to be returned to the school principal.

“Teachers continue to have very serious concerns about the use of FSA and the misuse of the results,” continued MacFarlane.

“It also is important to note that the BC Principals and Vice Principals are now speaking out against the tests as so it is our hope that they will honour parental requests to have their students withdrawn from taking the test,” added MacFarlane

Teachers for a number of years have voiced their concerns about these tests. Teachers firmly believe that FSAs do not help students to learn or teachers teach. They are not used for report cards or to diagnose learning problems. The results are not used to determine which schools may need extra resources. FSAs take valuable time and precious resources away from teaching and learning.

“In addition the results are completely misused by the Fraser Institute to rank schools,” continued MacFarlane. “These rankings are misleading and focus on narrow and biased criteria that do not reflect the rich tapestry of learning in our schools.

MacFarlane emphasized, “Teachers are not opposed to assessment. Teachers assess their students daily in a varied and professional manner. They use assessment every day to help kids learn.”

At the provincial level the BC Teachers’ Federation has asked the government to establish a Testing And Assessment Task Force where education stakeholders could work together to explore the issues and information about assessment and develop recommendations to government on appropriate tools for assessment.