B.C.’s Grad Program Assessment a step backward: SD5
The School District No. 5 (SD5), Southeast Kootenay Board of Education is supporting the B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s (BCTF) in its stand against the BC Graduation Program.
In an April 8 letter to Premier John Horgan and Minister of Education Rob Fleming, regarding the BC Graduation Program Assessment, SD5 Board Chair Frank Lento says the provincial government is taking a step backward, countering good work being done in provincial schools and not reflective of views shared by the Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment (AGPA).
During a February 12 meeting the SD5 board carried the following motion: that the board write a letter to both the Minister of Education and the Premier of B.C. in support of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation’s (BCTF) letter on the BC Graduation Program.
“This motion follows considerable discussion around the letter sent to government from the BCTF, dated November 14, 2018. Our board shares the BCTF’s concern that government’s additional assessment outlined in the Graduation Program was not part of the recommendation provided to government in the June 2014 Report submitted to government from the AGPA – a group which included representatives from all partner groups in education—and that it should not be included as assessment requirements for the renewed BC Graduation Program,” explained SD5’s/Lento’s letter.
“The rationale provided by government for this additional assessment appears contrary to the findings of this committee and its extensive work, which was the collaborative effort of all education stakeholders to co-construct B.C.’s renewed curriculum and assessments,” the letter continued.
“This additional assessment is in fact a step backward and is counter to the amazing work our schools are doing around creating lifelong and resilient learning in our students. Learning through timely assessment enables students to master the necessary concepts and make corrections to their understanding of these concepts throughout their learning. Having an assessment at the end of Grade 12 does nothing to support this important learning —it simply allows government to “check a box” to satisfy public perception, by hitting the ‘easy button.’
“Furthermore, according to the final report of the Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment, past provincial assessments have been misinterpreted and that there is need for “assessment within the educational system [to] be performed in an ethical, equitable and consistent manner,” SD5 stated.
“There is zero proof that when all students write an assessment, parents, teachers, schools and the province receive accurate information on how students are learning.
“The MoE and stakeholders have expended years of research and expertise and considerable financial resources in order to revise the B.C. curriculum so that “students can succeed in the 21st Century.” Yet, standardized testing cannot adequately capture or reflect personalized learning (the focus of the revised curriculum), due to its inherently oppositional structure.”
SD5 outlined that personalized learning requires students to learn “by exploring their interests and passions” and then demonstrating understanding in uniquely personal ways, while standardized tests encourage and reflect “boiler-plate” learning.
In addition to the BCTF, the SD5 board stated it is aware that the Superintendents of BC “provided very detailed feedback to the Deputy Minister at the Fall 2018 meeting, and a subsequent, meeting on October 19, 2018. Our board concurs with the points made by the BC School Superintendents Association (BCSSA) in a follow-up letter sent to government, dated October 22, 2018. In this letter, the BCSSA also indicated that they do not support the changes to assessment made by government.”
Specifically, BCSSA noted that the changes:
- Do not support evidence-based practices regarding student learning
- Are not aligned with previously partner-developed recommendations
- Do not align with the K-9 educational program
- Were developed in isolation rather than co-constructed in the collaborative spirit of the transformation agenda process.
“Our board, on behalf of students and parents and stakeholders strongly adds our voice to the voices of the BCTF and the BCSSA. Like these important stakeholder organizations, we urge your government to seriously reconsider what we believe are unsupportable decisions regarding the important issue of student assessment within the renewed BC Graduation Program,” the letter concluded.