Only students who are attending school in person will be taking the Foundation Skills Assessment this February.
The annual reading, writing and numeracy tests are administered by classroom teachers for students in Grade 4 and 7.
“It is quite an impossible thing to do with students who are at home right now, so we will only be looking at those students who are attending regularly,” assistant superintendent Renge Bailie said during the Jan. 19 school board meeting.
Currently, the school district has 284 students from all grades learning from home, leaving nearly 1,400 students attending class in-person.
The FSAs will be taking place between Feb. 15 and March 12, after being rescheduled twice this school year.
The provincial assessments have been the source of controversy for years among teachers and parents, who have said the the tests are an unreliable way of measuring student success as participation is often low and marks from a single test may not show a student’s best work.
The FSAs are also used by the Fraser Institute to rank elementary schools in British Columbia from best to worst, which the B.C. Teachers’ Federation routinely denounces each year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been additional calls for the Ministry of Education to end FSA testing.
“This test adds additional, unwarranted stress and anxiety to students who are already feeling the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chilliwack Teachers’ Association president Ed Klettke said in January of this year.
Parents of Grade 4 and 7 students in the Fraser Cascade School District will be receiving letters from both the district and the Fraser Cascade Teachers’ Association in early February with more information about the FSAs.
In addition to the Foundation Skills Assessment, the school district will also be holding a very different kind of assessment for students in grades 6 and 8 at the same time.
The Middle Years Development Instrument (MDI) is a holistic assessment of students’ overall health in the school system. The survey, organized by UBC’s Human Early Learning Partnership, will look at their physical health, connectedness to peers and staff, emotional development, school experiences and their use of after-school time.
“The MDI might show just how much kids are struggling now and how much they’ve been affected by the pandemic,” Bailie said.
Results from the assessment for the school district will be available through the Human Early Learning Partnership’s website, and will be shared with community partners in the Fraser Cascade area.
“That can help drive what resources we think need to come into the community next,” Bailie said.
Information for parents on the survey was sent out by the school district last week.
-with files from Eric Welsh