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Controversial FSA tests underway in Greater Victoria schools

The education minister calls them a tool to show where children excel and where they struggle. The B.C. Teachers’ Federation calls them a part of a testing regime that undermines teachers’ ability to provide meaningful learning experiences for all students.

Either way, Foundation Skills Assessments are in Grade 4 and 7 classrooms across the province right now until Feb. 25.

Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid sent an open letter to parents on Jan. 16, the night before the first tests of reading comprehension, writing and numeracy were administered.

“It allows you to work together with your child’s teacher to identify problems and take action early on so that your child will be successful later on in their schooling,” MacDiarmid wrote in the letter.

The following day, the BCTF issued a statement refuting MacDiarmid’s claims.

“These tests assess only a very narrow and superficial slice of the curriculum, but they take on exaggerated importance when the minister inflates their value with her open letter, when accountability contracts use them as indicators and when the Fraser Institute misuses the results to rank schools,” said BCTF president Susan Lambert in the press release.

Tests take four-and-a-half hours to complete and come at a cost of $7.50 per student.

Deborah Courville, associate superintendent of School District 61, said parents with concerns should take the time to educate themselves about the tests.

“The best thing that parents can do if they have questions about the FSA testing and how it impacts their student is to call their school’s principal and have a conversation,” she said.