British Columbia

B.C. teachers discourage student testing

B.C. teachers are encouraging parents to have their children not take assessment tests that the province insists is an important measure of students' progress.

Teachers undertake campaign to have parents decline to have their kids tested

 Some B.C. teachers are encouraging parents to have their children opt out of Foundation Skills Assessment tests now underway – tests the provincial government says provide an important measure of students’ progress.

The FSA tests are held each year for students in grade 4 and grade 7 and are mandatory unless parents decline to have their children take part.

The province says the tests are critical to determine how well students are learning basic skills and how well the education system is working.

Parent Erin Sparks, of Maple Ridge, said she was surprised when her grade 7 son brought home an information package from teachers.

Inside was an information sheet on FSA tests and a letter to have their children opt out of it.

Sparks said she was happy to sign.

"Definitely," said Sparks. "I've already filled mine out and sent it back with my son."

Minister disappointed

Teachers say the tests aren’t helpful to the education system.

"These tests are misused, none of the data is used by the teacher, they take up a lot of time, they cost a lot of money," said George Serra, of the Maple Ridge Teachers Association.

Parent Erin Sparks says she was happy to not have her child take the FSA test. (CBC)
B.C.'s education minister George Abbott has said he's disappointed with the teachers’ tactic.

At a time when teachers aren't providing report cards as part of their job action against the provincial government, it’s even more important to have a benchmark to determine how well B.C. students are doing, Abbott said.

The province’s 40,000 teachers have refused to monitor or supervise most extracurricular and playground activities, or fill out report cards, since the school year began last September while contract negotiations drag on.

Because of the teachers' job action, administrators had asked the province to scrap the standardized tests this year. But the ministry has said that would set a bad precedent, so principals and vice principals will administer the tests this year.

With files from the CBC's Tim Weekes