A pandemic is no time for standardized testing: BCTF to parents

IN an open letter to BC parents on Tuesday, B.C. Teachers’ Federation President Teri Mooring said that a pandemic is no time for standardized testing:

Dear parents,

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to impact every aspect of our lives, the BC government is going ahead this month with a standardized test called the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA). This test is given to students in Grades 4 and 7. BC teachers have long opposed the FSA because it takes time away from meaningful teaching and learning, creates needless stress and anxiety, and the results are used to inappropriately rank schools.

There was nothing normal about the last school year or the one we are currently in. Teachers, students, and families have been forced to constantly adjust to changing rules and conditions. It has been tough on everyone. We shouldn’t be adding to the issues and challenges our students and teachers are facing.

With everything going on, we believe students’ physical, mental, and emotional health should come before data collection. A global pandemic is no time to force young students to take a stressful standardized test on shared computers when very little benefit, if any at all, ever comes from the results. In addition, the FSAs are not a reliable measurement of individual progress.

Unfortunately, school districts and administrators have come under intensified pressure from the Ministry of Education to boost participation rates, often against the wishes of parents and caregivers.

Here’s what teachers recommend:

  • If your child is learning at school, send in a request to withdraw them from the FSA. You can find a template letter at BCTF.ca/parents.
  • If your child is learning at home, do not send them to school to write the test and do not feel any pressure that they must do it online.
  • If you feel pressured to have your child write the test against your wishes, assert your right to withdraw your child for “extenuating circumstances.” There is a global pandemic after all.

The pandemic is impacting students and families in many different ways. Some families have experienced personal loss while others are experiencing economic hardship. As a consequence, data from this standardized test will be skewed, flawed, and of no use to teachers. They won’t provide any information about student performance that your child’s teacher doesn’t already know. And, they don’t result in any increased support or funding.

If you are concerned about how your child is doing in school, I encourage you to talk to their classroom teacher.

Thank you for everything you do to support your children’s learning. Remember to visit BCTF.ca/parents to learn more and download the withdrawal letter.

Teri Mooring

BCTF President