September 19, 2019
Dear Parents/Guardians of students in Grades 4 & 7,
Subject: Foundation Skills Assessment – September/October 2019
The Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) is an annual province-wide assessment of British Columbia students' academic skills, and provides a snapshot of students' foundational skills in reading, writing, numeracy and self-reflection. The FSA is a test consisting of multiple choice and written questions and is administered in the classroom. The results are communicated at the provincial and school district levels, as well as confidentially at the individual student level to parents. The results are not part of formal student evaluations and are not included in report cards; however, they are a tool that can be used along with the many other assessment approaches teachers use in the classroom to support student learning.
The FSA will be administered at schools between September 30 and October 18, 2019. The reading and numeracy sections consist of online multiple choice and written response questions. The writing section consists of one impromptu writing task. The written responses will be marked within the school district by our teachers and administrators.
All students in grades 4 and 7 in British Columbia, including French Immersion students, are required by the Ministry of Education to write the FSA.
Since 2013, a protocol agreement between the BC Teachers' Federation and the BC Public School Employers' Association enables local teachers' unions to distribute specific information about the FSA to parents. The protocol outlines parameters to this distribution of information, including that materials distributed to parents by teachers via students shall be in sealed envelopes, clearly identifying that they are union produced and distributed. The union materials that parents often receive indicate that if a parent returns a signed letter, or the tear-off section of the union material, to the school office stating that they have a preference for their child not to write the test, that the child will be excused. Letters and/or forms from parents indicating that they have a preference for their child not to write the FSA are not sufficient to excuse a student.
There are few Ministry exemptions to writing this assessment. School Principals will excuse any student with special needs who has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that documents a learning need that precludes the student from writing the FSA. English Language Learners (ELL students) with insufficient levels of language proficiency to comprehend the questions are also excused. In addition, Principals may excuse a student in the event of a family emergency, lengthy illness, or other extenuating circumstances of similar seriousness. A parent's/guardian's submission of a letter to the Principal will not, of itself, constitute proof of extenuating circumstances.
I hope this information will clarify any questions you might have about the Foundation Skills Assessment. If you require any further information about your child's writing of the FSA, please communicate directly with your school Principal. A Foundation Skills Assessment: Parent Brochure is available HERE.
Thank you for your ongoing support of our efforts to provide the best possible educational programs for students in the North Vancouver School District.
Superintendent, North Vancouver School District