Enough already! Vancouver teachers support Sooke teacher facing discipline for refusing to give standardized test

    VANCOUVER, Sept. 25 /CNW/ - On Tuesday, September 25, 2007, teachers from
across the British Columbia will rally at the Sooke Board of Education office
in support of a colleague who may be disciplined for refusing to administer a
standardized test to her Grade 3 students.
    "We are here to support our colleague in Sooke," says Glen Hansman,
President of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association (VESTA).
"Now is the time for parents to make an informed choice about their child's
participation in standardized tests which are increasingly undermining good
education practice in BC."
    Last fall, the Vancouver School Board (VSB), its District Parent Advisory
Council, and VESTA cost-shared an evening event with Alfie Kohn to highlight
concerns about standardized testing such as the FSA.
    "Vancouver teachers were very pleased to see the VSB take a position on
standardized tests last fall by declaring in a media release that our fixation
on test scores is hurting good teaching methods." (See
    Motivated by concern for her students, Kathryn Sihota, a Grade 3 teacher
in the Sooke school district and 27-year veteran in primary teaching, took a
stand last spring and refused to give the DART (District Assessment of Reading
Team) to her young charges. "I've administered the test for years and I'm not
going to do it anymore," Sihota says. "The last time I gave the test, a child
dissolved in tears from anxiety. I'd put her in a situation I didn't want her
to be in." Teachers oppose testing when its purpose is simply to satisfy the
government and school district agenda of data collection for political
purposes, rather than to assist them in finding ways to enrich students'
learning experiences. An increasing number of tests are now being imposed on
students and are detracting from a quality learning experience. These include
the Ministry of Education's Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA), which teachers
and parents in Vancouver have vigorously objected to over the past seven
years. Vancouver teachers renew their campaign against the FSA this week.
"Teachers work with students in classrooms every day and understand that
students need support and encouragement to be successful," says Glen Hansman.
"We use a variety of assessment methods, including tests, to help students
learn. The over-emphasis on standardized exams and data collection is putting
students and their success at risk while doing nothing to enhance learning.
Enough already! Let's make this year the last year for useless tests like the
FSA and DART." The rally will be held at the Sooke Board of Education office
3143 Jacklin Road, Victoria, from 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Speakers include: Ian
Johnson (president of the Sooke Teachers' Association), Kathryn Sihota (Sooke
teacher), Eden Haythornthwaite (Cowichan school trustee), Hanna Seymour
(Cowichan parent), Rachel Soberg (Sooke parent), and Irene Lanzinger
(president of the BCTF).

For further information:

For further information: Glen Hansman, President of the Vancouver
Elementary School Teachers' Association, (604) 873-8378 (Monday-Friday, except
holidays), (604) 813-5318 (cell), or glen@vesta.ca

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