Local students skip assessment test

Grade 4 students at Palsson Elementary School decided to skip the Foundation Skills Assessment test in record numbers, this school year.

  • Feb. 14, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Grade 4 students at Palsson Elementary School decided to skip the Foundation Skills Assessment test in record numbers, this school year.

In all, 42.8 per cent of Palsson Elementary School students skipped the test, up from 21.6 per cent during last year’s testing.

“I am not in support of the testing,” Palsson’s Parent Advisory Council head Belinda Waller said. “All it’s turned into is ranking the schools.”

Palsson Elementary School’s ranking, based on 2010 Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) test scores, was 3.4 out of 10.

Taking into consideration the school’s performance over the past five years, this is an average ranking for the school.

Local school board trustee Diana Gunderson agrees with Waller, and added that the scores generated from the Ministry of Education mandated exam should be taken with a grain of salt.

“Students don’t get anything for this,” she said. “It’s not on their report card.

As such, not all students take the test seriously.

On the topic of private schools typically topping the list, Gunderson said, “Of course! It’s all related to the economic situation of the school district.”

With the Cowichan Lake area’s low economic status, it makes sense we don’t rank well, she said.

“To me, the results are so unreliable, and of little use,” she said. “It takes valuable time away from teaching, and what I see as actual education.” It can also be damaging to the community, she said.

“A lot of parents look at these scores, and move there,” she said. “In fact, it’s an unfair rating.”

Grade 7 students also take part in the testing, meaning Lake Cowichan Secondary School students also participate.

“I would like everyone to write them,” principal Peter Jory said. “They help the school identify which students need help… Sometimes a good test can help us show there’s more attention needed.”

By taking the test, coping mechanisms that mask some students’ abilities, such as excelling at group work and by obtaining extra help, can be looked through by educators.

That said, Jory made some concessions about the FSA.

“Some years the test is better than others,” he said. “If the quality of the test was greater it would be easier to defend.”

Jory also disagrees with the tests being used to rank schools, as there are far too many variables for a single test, taken on a single day, to make such a determination.

Secondary school results will be released in June, which the principal expects will rank LCSS even higher than last year’s 4.8 out of 10.

The school has boasted a 100 per cent graduation rate for the past two years.

“You’re going to see some better results from us – and that’s our job,” he said.

AB Greenwell Elementary School (at Yount in Youbou) was not included in the report.