All 4th and 7th grade Vancouver students will be bringing home a notice from the VSB regarding upcoming FSA tests being conducted in BC schools over the upcoming weeks. The FSA, or Foundation Skills Assessment, is an annual standardized test taken across the province, and is intended to measure academic achievement (see http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/administration/kindergarten-to-grade-12/assessment/foundation-skills-assessment).
Vancouver parents should be informed that if they have a concern about the FSA, or wish to prohibit their child from participating, they should contact their principal or vice-principal in writing.
While there is considerable controversy about the effectiveness of standardized testing, and in many cases research is prompting educators to move to other mechanisms for measuring educational goals, one unfortunate result of the FSA is that it is used by those outside the education system to create school rankings. This divisive and in many ways detrimental practice has led to the notion of "better" and "worse" schools, in absolute terms. More nuanced methods of evaluation include the understanding that English language ability, poverty, and the normal variability of young students will impact short-term outcomes, but not necessarily long-term success.