Before I got ready to administer the FSA last spring I asked myself why. Would it provide my students or school with any meaningful feedback? If my class scored particularly low in, say, reading comprehension, would I even find out? Does anyone from the Ministry of Education or the board office come to my school and provide my low scoring students with extra support or resources? Did I really need to know how my class does in comparison to a class in Smithers? I already know how my students are doing. I have been teaching them for close to 6 months.
It would take close to 5 hours over the course of one week for my twelve grade four students to complete all sections of the test (I also had thirteen grade fives to think about). Again, what meaningful benefit would they gain from this exercise? I can’t use it for report cards. I can’t adjust my lessons, teaching style or even acquire resources because I never find out where the students made errors. Ultimately the test would do nothing to enhance the learning in my classroom.
So this is the message I relayed to parents. Of course I gave them the standard union handout, but I also made a point to talk with each parent. I told them that the test was challenging (and potentially stressful), took about a week to complete and used up close to 5 hours of instructional time. I told them that I would not see the actual test after it had been marked. I would not be able to see where the students went wrong (or right). I told them it would not be part of their upcoming report card mark. I told them that I wasn’t really interested in how our school ranked or how we were doing compared to those students in Smithers. So guess what happened? Not one of my grade 4 students wrote the test. All of the parents signed the form to have their child exempted from the test. All I did was state my opinion and parents listened.