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Posted: November 24, 2017

SD5 board raises issue concerning Fraser Institute

School District No. 5 (SD5) School Board of Trustees have forwarded a letter to Minister of Education Rob Fleming, backing a previous Cranbrook and Fernie Teachers’ Association (CFTA) letter raising concerns about how the Fraser Institute uses Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) results.

SD5 board chair Frank Lento stated on behalf of the board that they have concerns about the “highly unethical manner in which the Fraser Institute is able to simplify the data generated by these standardized tests and publicize the ‘results’ by school.

SD5 board chair Frank Lento

“As you are aware, stakeholder concerns regarding the FSA have been discussed, and expressed to the previous government, as members of the Advisory Groups on Provincial Assessment (AGPA), as well as individually, since the introduction of the FSA.

“In June, 2014, Deans of Education, Kris Magnusson and Blye Frank submitted a final report on behalf of the AGPA, and the organizations that comprise the AGPA; the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC), BC Council of Administrators of Special Education (BCCASE), BC Superintendents’ Association (BCSA), BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), First Nations’ Education Steering Committee (FNESC), Office of the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY), BC and others, pointing out that 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.”

“Teachers, and other stakeholders believe the public ranking of FSAs do harm to students, schools and public education. Over the past decade, prior Ministers of Education have been asked to discard the FSA, or at least administer it on a random, sample basis so that neither students nor schools can be identified,” Lento stated.

“There is no proof that “when all students write the assessment, parents, teachers, schools and the province receive accurate information on how students are learning.” Conversely, random sampling has been the standard international education assessment method for a number of years and has been proven to be statistically sound.

“In addition to the unethical interpretation and use of FSA results,” Lento wrote, “parents in our district wonder why the regular curriculum test, and exams are not enough to evaluate their child’s progress; especially given that the FSA results are not used to calculate report card grades or to diagnose learning problems. Neither do “lower school scores” result in additional resources for that school. The FSA does however result in the overall loss of valuable time and precious teaching and learning opportunities within our schools.

“Our board would also like the Ministry of Education (MoE) to consider that the MoE and educational partners have dedicated many years of research and expertise and have expended 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; 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,” the SD5 board letter stated.

“Our board has been encouraged by your prior comments, Minister Fleming, as education critic to the previous government, regarding the unfairness of ranking schools and the negative implications this has for the K-12 education system. It is our hope that, under your leadership as Education Minister, the FSA-and the public ranking of educational assessments-will be replaced with valuation methods that reflect and assist the innovative revised curriculum teaching and learning practices our district continues to embrace,” the letter concluded.

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