Vancouver elementary teachers renew FSA campaign

    VANCOUVER, April 5 /CNW/ - Vancouver elementary teachers have begun an
information campaign for parents about the Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA),
and are encouraging parents to withdraw their children from these annual
standardized tests for grades 4 and 7 students.
    "Teachers have numerous concerns about FSA," says Glen Hansman, President
of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers' Association (VESTA). "These tests
do not help students learn. These tests take valuable time away from teaching
and learning. Hours and hours of practicing takes time away from richer, more
meaningful learning experiences."
    "These tests are expensive," he continues. "They take money away from
priorities such as textbooks, support for students with special needs, science
equipment, and library books."
    VESTA has begun publishing ads in local print media in both English and
Chinese. The ads contain a letter parents can fill out and give to their
child's principal to excuse their child from writing the FSA.
    Another concern of teachers is how the tests are being misused to
unfairly compare schools. "The Fraser Institute rankings of elementary schools
are misleading and create further disadvantage in already disadvantaged
schools and communities," says Glen Hansman. "These rankings have been
condemned by many educational partner organizations, and discredited by
educational researchers. We applaud the work of Paul Shaker, the Dean of
Education at SFU who has been speaking out so knowledgably on this issue.
Fortunately, parents and school board trustees are taking notice."
    For example, the Cowichan Valley School Board trustees passed the
following resolution on 2007 April 4: "That the Cowichan Valley Board of
School Trustees write a letter calling on the Minister of Education to
eliminate the Foundation Skills (FSA) testing program."
    "We encourage other school districts to carry similar motions," says Glen
Hansman. "And in the meantime, hope that parents inform themselves on the
issue of standarized testing, and choose to pull their children out of the
preparation and writing of these tests."

For further information:

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

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