September 26, 2023
Dear Parents/Guardians of Students in Grades 4 and 7,
Re: Foundation Skills Assessment – October 2023
The Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) is an annual province-wide assessment that provides a snapshot of students’ foundational skills in literacy (understanding and communicating with language) and numeracy (understanding and working with numbers). All students in Grades 4 and 7, including French Immersion students, are required by the Ministry of Education and Child Care to write the FSA.
The results of the FSA are communicated at the provincial and school district levels, as well as confidentially at the individual student level to parents/guardians. The results are a tool that can be used along with the many other assessment approaches teachers use in the classroom to support student learning; however, they are not part of formal student evaluations.
The FSA will be administered at North Vancouver School District schools from October 2 to 27, 2023. As explained in the Ministry-prepared FSA overview for parents and caregivers, the assessment includes online and written questions, a group activity and a reflection exercise. This overview document, available in eight languages, is found under the Resources for Parents and Caregivers section of the Foundation Skills Assessment web page.
Since 2013, a protocol agreement between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Public School Employers' Association enables local teachers’ unions to distribute information about the FSA to parents/guardians. The protocol outlines parameters to this distribution of information, including material distributed by teachers shall be 1) in sealed envelopes and 2) clearly identified as union produced and distributed. The union material may indicate a child will be excused from the assessment if a parent/guardian communicates in writing a preference for their child to not write the test. However, parents/guardians indicating they have a preference for their child to not write the FSA is not sufficient to excuse a student.
There are few Ministry exemptions to writing this assessment. School principals may excuse:
- Students whose personalized learning standards significantly differ from provincial curricular standards and are documented in their Individual Education Plan.
- English Language Learning students who have not reached a level of proficiency sufficient to provide meaningful responses to the literacy or numeracy sections of the FSA.
- Students experiencing extenuating circumstances (e.g., lengthy illness, a family emergency).
Based on the exceptions identified above, administrators may identify students who may be excused from one or both components of the FSA. Students may only be excused from participating in consultation with their parent/guardian; however a parent/guardian submitting a letter to the principal will not, of itself, constitute proof of extenuating circumstances.
I hope this information will clarify any questions you may have about the Foundation Skills Assessment. If you require additional information, please contact your school principal.
Thank you for continuing to support our efforts to provide students with the best possible educational programming.
Dr. Pius Ryan
Superintendent of Schools
cc: Board of Education
Principals and Vice Principals