Over 60 per cent of Powell River’s grades four and seven students are meeting or exceeding provincial education standards, according to Foundational Skills Assessment (FSA) results released recently.
The FSA is an annual provincial assessment of skills in reading comprehension, writing and numeracy, according to the ministry of education. Grades four and seven students are tested every year to help the ministry, school districts and parents evaluate how students and schools are doing.
“Parents want this information,” said George Abbott, the former education minister, in a statement. “And I believe the more information parents have the better able they are to support and help to improve the learning of their children.”
However, Cathy Fisher, president of the Powell River and District Teachers’ Association, doesn’t hold much stock in the numbers, saying that the collection of the test results is fundamentally flawed.
“It would be better to do a fully random sample of students to test, like every one in five student,” said Fisher. “The results would provide better information. The FSA puts the students under unnecessary pressure and the information is not of much value in the end.”
Fisher also said she thinks that because there are so few students taking the test and the results are published by each school and grade level, it almost violates students’ privacy. It could be easy to identify those students who have not met the province’s standard. This kind of testing does nothing to actually help teachers or students, Fisher added, and is “counter-productive to classroom learning and only furthers the government’s privatization agenda.”
The FSA results are showing positive growth in areas that the district has targeted, said Jay Yule, Powell River’s superintendent of schools. “Teachers and administrators should be commended for their efforts,” he said. “Reading levels have been at or above the provincial average in four of the last five years. Writing is above the provincial average and math is within a standard deviation of the provincial average and continues to be an area of targeted intervention.”
Test results showing the percentage of students meeting or exceeding standards and comparison from last year’s results are as follows:
Grade four reading, 70 per cent, up one per cent.
Grade four writing, 72 per cent, down one per cent.
Grade four numeracy, 68 per cent, up one per cent.
Grade seven reading, 64 per cent, down two per cent.
Grade seven writing, 71 per cent, down one per cent.
Grade seven numeracy, 60 per cent, down two per cent.