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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 20, Number 3, November/December 2007

BCTF meets with the minister of education

In October, Education Minister Shirley Bond publicly stated her willingness to meet with teachers about the mandated testing issue. BCTF President, Irene Lanzinger asked Bond to make good on her pledge. The meeting took place Tuesday, November 6. The BCTF was represented by Irene Lanzinger, First VP Susan Lambert, Second VP Jim Iker, and Executive Director Ken Novakowski

According to Lanzinger: "The minister stated that the government is supportive of the current role standardized tests play in their education agenda. They may not support the way some of the testing data is used by outside parties, but she does not feel government has any control over that. She did not want any commitment to engage in a dialogue about testing to set false expectations for participants."

Emery Dosdall, the deputy minister stated that the FSA is a good test but that it is a major problem when FSA results are used for ranking schools. He acknowledged that a dialogue about the collection and use of data would be useful.

The minister insisted that she had not heard from anyone in her travels and consultations about what the BCTF calls the "proliferation of testing."

Lanzinger responded by underlining that testing "…is a major issue for teachers that they are continually required to administer tests that are unrelated to what is going on in their classrooms." She suggested to the ministry that random testing of students using the FSA—where students or schools were not identified—would still provide the big-picture information that the ministry needed for its work.

The minister stated her opposition to the concept of random sample testing but still left the door open for further discussion on the issue of testing. She suggested her staff meet with the BCTF to determine a possible framework for these discussions.

While Bond alluded to a university "think-tank" she had participated in that suggested students entering university from BC schools "aren’t ready" for university, Lanzinger turned the conversation back to the number one issue of teachers—classroom conditions. "Teachers," she said, "feel betrayed by the legislation (Bill 33) that was supposed to address class-size and composition issues in schools and instead has become a ‘broken promise.’"

The minister indicated that the information about this year’s class sizes was not yet put together and that she would be analyzing it as soon as it was available. She stated that she was concerned about the implementation of Bill 33 but asked that teachers wait until the data was available so we could have a discussion based on up-to-date information.

– Murray Dobbin

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