The FSAs are being written later for this school year. Image, Ministry of Education screenshot

The FSAs are being written later for this school year. Image, Ministry of Education screenshot

FSAs only provide snapshot of schools results, says Comox Valley administrator

Allan Douglas, district director of instruction, has been involved with test since inception

Allan Douglas has been involved with the foundation skills assessments (FSA) since their inception, helping guide the process, so he‘d have a good idea about what the tests do, and what they’re not supposed to do.

In recent years, the FSAs have faced criticism from groups such as the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC School Trustees Association, particularly as the results have been used as the basis by the right-of-centre think-thank, the Fraser Institute, for its annual report card of elementary schools throughout the province, which some argue pits different schools against each other.

“That was never the intent of the FSAs,” says Douglas, director of instructional services K-12 for Comox Valley Schools.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley schools near mid-pack in Fraser Institute rankings

In fact, the results were not always made public, he says, but because of factors such as parental wishes to find out their children’s results along with pledges by the provincial government for transparency, over the years the FSAs became public knowledge.

What they were, and still are intended to do is provide a glimpse of students in grades 4 and 7 on how they are faring with the core skills of reading, writing and numeracy.

“What we do is look for trends,” says Douglas. “It’s just a snapshot.”

If a class at one school, for example, shows students behind, the importance lies in pointing out what particular material in the curriculum may need focus. In some cases, it could reflect items the class has not yet covered. What the test is not supposed to be, says Douglas, is a way to undermine teachers.

“It’s not about the Grade 4 teacher and the Grade 7 teacher,” he says.

The importance really is in the details of the test to point out any areas where classes need to concentrate. It also forms just part of the picture, as schools use school-based assessments as well, which will sometimes provide different messages for them. From early on, the district also relies on information kindergarten teachers provide through the early development instrument (EDI), which identifies children coming into the school system according to five different domains to point out which kids might be vulnerable and where they need help.

Another common trend in the Fraser Institute rankings is the presence of independent schools at the top of the rankings. Douglas says it is no surprise. On the one hand, it reflects some innovative programming and work on the schools’ part, but these schools, unlike public schools, do not have a mandate to provide a space for every student. In some cases, they require entrance examinations. Public schools, he says, also have a broader mandate, one that includes supports such as breakfast programs to make sure students are not starting their school day hungry.

”Everybody that comes into our schools we welcome with open arms,” he says.

The FSA takes a few hours to complete but is given over a week to help reduce test anxiety any students may have. The test has changed over time. In recent years, it has incorporated ideas from the province’s new curriculum to include opportunities for students to exercise some collaborative skills and reflective thinking, as well as answering the actual FSA questions.

Another big change for 2020-21 is the time of year for the test. In recent years, the students have written the FSAs during the fall, but because of COVID-19 logistical challenges, students will now write them in early 2021. An update of the provincial website notes the administration of the test is being postponed until Jan. 18 through Feb. 26, 2021, to provide schools more time to prepare.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

CSWM is planning to increase the space for loading bays at the Comox Valley Waste Management Centre. Record file photo
CSWM plans increase to number of Comox Valley landfill bays

The expansion prompted in part by COVID-19 spacing requirements

Cumberland is demanding a major clean-up at a Derwent Avenue property. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland orders massive clean-up at downtown house

Uninsured vehicles, illegal structures have been subject of multiple complaints

Andrea Cupelli of the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness told council the coalition’s needs assessment for non-market housing continues to grow throughout the region, as well as within Comox. . File photo
Coalition to end homelessness asking for additional funding from Comox

The coalition’s needs assessment for non-market housing continues to grow

Work on the first phase of renovations at the Village of Cumberland office is nearing completion. Record file photo
Cumberland office close to re-opening after reno

First phase with COVID measures should be done this month

Cumberland has long gone its own way when it comes to parks. Record file photo
Cumberland hesitant about regional park service

Community was left out of area park plan back fifty years ago

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Standardized foundation skills assessment tests in B.C. schools will be going ahead later than usual, from Feb. 16 to March 12 for students in Grades 4 and 7. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. teachers say COVID-affected school year perfect time to end standardized tests

Foundational skills testing of Grade 4 and 7 students planned for February ad March

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Most Read