Vernon School District supports tests teachers call ‘socially damaging’

Teachers continue to protest Foundation Skills Assessment test, but Vernon School District believes there is some merit to the process.

While teachers continue to protest what they believe is an unnecessary test, the Vernon School District believes there is some merit to the process.

Grade 4 and 7 students will soon be writing the annual Foundation Skills Assessments.

“They are based on B.C.  curriculum and reflect the province of B.C.,” said Bev Rundell, district superintendent.

“We have used the results around indicators for schools (with learning assistant students). How do we support students challenged in certain areas?”

But Rundell admits she has some concerns about  how one group uses the FSA results.

“I don’t agree with the Fraser Institute using it to rank schools. They are just one indicator of what goes on in schools,” she said.

The Vernon Teachers Association suggests the FSAs will direct learning towards preparation for annual tests that measure only a narrow range of abilities.

“The more importance we place on the FSA, the more time and resources we steal from real learning and the expense of the  testing leaves fewer financial resources for students in classrooms,” said Kevin Bader, VTA president.

“We do not object to testing and assessment. In fact, we assess the learning of our students in many ways each day, using a wide variety of measures, including tests.”

Like Rundell,  the VTA also opposes the Fraser Institute using the FSA results for ranking schools.

Parents are being urged by the union to withdraw their children from the FSAs.

“Teachers feel the tests are both educationally unsound and socially damaging,” said Bader.

However, Rundell says there are limited reasons for students to not write the FSAs and they involve medical emergencies.

“The School Act speaks of the duties of teachers, administrators and districts and we have to administer the FSAs,” she said.