Stop ranking schools

?To be sure, using the Foundation Skills Assessment tests to rank schools is a repugnant use of this test. And it should stop or at least be ignored. 

I agree with Steen Peterson from Nanaimo who wrote in the Daily Courier on January 13 that FSA’s could be more useful if they were done twice to show growth. 

In my early days as an elementary school teacher I used a tool called the Gates-MacGinitie reading test. We would administer one test in late September and then another test in late March. This test would show whether or not individual students improved in reading. All of my students improved. It was useful information for them and for me and also for the school.

When I became the principal of an elementary junior secondary school, we would administer the Canadian Test of Basic Skills (CTBS). Although this was done only once a year in the Spring, it gave us useful information about strengths and weaknesses in our school. 

I have a vivid memory of how the test showed that the math problem-solving skills my school were quite low one year. So, of course, that became a major goal for the following year, namely, to improve problem-solving skills in all grade levels. The next test showed that we, as a school, had improved. We were judged by how much we had improved, not that we were low in problem-solving skills. I do not remember my school being ranked in those days.

It’s unfortunate that the Fraser Institute continues to use FSA results in order to rank schools. As I said above, I believe this is an unnecessary and distasteful use of good information. Unfortunately, many teachers have protested against using the FSA test for that reason. 

This is a perfect example of the saying, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater“, which I believe the BCTF and many teachers have done by either refusing to give the test or getting more and more students to opt out. I believe that we should continue to give the tests and receive the useful information that they provide and simply ignore the Fraser Institute. 

Richard Knight, Kelowna

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