The news that the K-12 school in the polygamous community of Bountiful was one of B.C.’s top 10 elementary schools prompted the board of education to join other districts in demanding the province find a better process for testing student progress.
The Fraser Institute uses results from the Foundation Skills Assessment tests to rank B.C. schools for the quality of education they deliver.
The B.C. Teachers Federation has long opposed the testing protocol and wants it replaced, the B.C. Association of Principals and Vice-Principals is now on record objecting to the way the results are handled in public, and the B.C. School Trustees Association agrees with complaints about the rankings but annually wrangles with the BCTF over its attitude towards the program.
Trustee Mark Wilson called it “disheartening” to hear Bountiful was considered one of the top elementary schools in the province.
“We should send a strongly worded letter on this issue.”
Very few students matriculate from the school outside Creston, and a B.C. Supreme Court trial examining Canada’s law against multiple marriages heard this week the community’s two schools had 16 students in Grade 8 in 2004-2005, but four years later when they would be expected to be in Grade 12, just three were enrolled.
Other trustees, though wearying of the issue, agreed it was still worth discussion.
“I think we should force the issue again,” said Mac Gregory. “We should write the minister to settle it.”
Lorraine Manning wanted the letter to reference the coming provincial trustee’s association motion on the issue as well.
During public question period, Andy Davidoff, president of the Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union, re-raised the FSA testing, asking director of instruction Bill Ford to comment on the value, or lack thereof, of the FSA tests to the district.
Ford responded that he certainly recognized “the politics of the issue,” and personally did not “hold a lot of weight in terms of the provincewide results.”
Ford did see utility in the assessment program for local districts, however.
“I do hold a lot of weight for the value that item analysis for our district, the bits of data from our district that are produced.”
Overall, he said, “it’s a piece of assessment, I will leave it at that.”
Pressed by Davidoff to respond to the Bountiful ranking, Ford answered, “No comment, it is what it is.”
The board will be sending a letter to the ministry outlining its concerns.
— With files from the Canadian Press