"Ministry defends use of standardized testing in gauging quality of schools." The headline in the Vancouver Province reads like something out of an Orwellian novel.
Every year this debate rears its head as the time for the administering of the FSA or Foundation Skills Assessment draws close. The B.C. Ministry of Education continues to defend the validity of these tests with education minister Margaret MacDiarmid ranking their importance with regular medical checkups.
At least with regular check-ups you have a good idea of where you stand and how you can improve your health. The FSA's do nothing to improve education. They are an expensive exercise that has little to no long term value in the education of children in British Columbia.
The results only serve as fodder for the right-wing Fraser Institute as a means for the ranking of schools throughout the province. The ranking process is based solely on the test scores of students in grades four and seven does not take into account socio-economic factors that may skew the results in favor of schools in well-to-do areas.
Standardized testing is an antiquated concept. It serves little value in a students education. In moving from a grade six/seven to a grade eight class over the past year I know from personal experience that the tests my students took last year have no bearing on their education this year. I don't even know their results from last year. Though the parents have received some indication of their child's performance such information is not readily shared with other classroom teachers. It is a pointless waste of time.
Even the British Columbia Principals and Vice-Principals Association has echoed the arguments of the BCTF spoken out against the validity of the FSA tests. Though they do not contest the governments right to conduct standardized testing which is a shame. Opposing the FSA's is a step in the right direction.
Parents have a right to be involved in their child's education and to have an understanding of their child's development. However, there are better ways than standardized testing and the ranking of students and schools based on the results of such loaded and narrow standardized tests to go about measuring student achievement and progress.
We just need the 'Ministry' to recognize this and do away with the Foundation Skills Assessments once and for all.