(Flickr Commons: Doc Searls)

Decrease in FSA participants

Student participation numbers in the annual Fraser Institute FSA’s have decreased.

Student participation numbers in the annual Fraser Institute Foundation Skills Assessment have decreased in the province.

Peter Cowley, director of School Performance Studies at the Fraser Institute, said the number of students taking the tests decreased in the province from when the tests were first introduced.

“If you look province-wide, 78.8 per cent of the tests that should’ve been written, were written,” he said.

The Fraser Institute released its controversial school rankings Tuesday. When the Foundation Skills Assessments (FSA) were initially introduced around 20 years ago, he said the participation rate was at 95 per cent.

The tests examine math, reading and writing competency for Grade 4 and 7 students and provide a rating for each school based on the results.

Peachland Elementary School is not in Fraser Institute list this year. The elementary school had six of 20 eligible Grade 4 students write the test, said Cowley. The institute requires a minimum of 10 students to write the test per school in order to use the data.

Principal Kevin Auclair said the school will be examining the data provided by the test.

“It’s only one assessment, it’s just one piece of many pieces we use to drive our instruction. We had plenty of students write it this year so we’ll be back into the list next year,” he said.

Central Okanagan School District chairperson Moyra Baxter doesn’t believe the rankings provide an accurate representation of Central Okanagan schools.

“We’re not against tests, we believe the results of tests should be used in a way that enhances student (learning),” she said.

“There’s other ways to find out how students are doing other than test. It’s just one moment in time when they take the test. You’ll also find every year fewer students are taking the tests.”

Crowley said the tests are a part of the B.C. curriculum.

“The only way you can exempt your child… is if there’s a family emergency of some kind, an extended illness or other extenuating circumstances,” he said.

Crowley agrees the tests are narrow in focus, “but it’s narrow in a very important way,” he said, adding there hasn’t been another way provided to compare schools in the last 20 years.

“A great many parents and a substantial number of educators… look at this report,” he said.

South Rutland Elementary received the lowest score in the district, at 3.1 out of 10 and placed 736 out of 780 schools in the study. For 2016, 28.8 per cent of the tests were not written.

Aberdeen Hall was ranked the highest with 9.4 had 9.6 per cent of the tests not written.

The B.C. Teachers Federation could not be reached for comment in time for Tuesday’s deadline.

To view B.C school ratings, visit website. www.compareschoolrankings.org.

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