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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 2, October 2006

FSAs can't judge our school

This letter from Maureen Ireland was sent to Education Minister Shirley Bond in May 2006 and some of her students’ letters are also excerpted here.

My Grade 4 students spontaneously decided to write letters in response to this year’s FSA tests. Although you will note that similar sentiments are expressed, the children were not coached. There was very lively and heated discussion as the letters were composed.

Our school, Dormick Park Elementary, was described on the front page of our local newspaper as "ranked worst of the elementary schools in Abbotsford." The children have communicated personal feelings about the tests and responded to what they view as the inaccurate and unjust labeling that our school community has been forced to endure.

Another local newspaper also featured these rankings and a colleague and I have written letters to the editors of these papers. I enclose copies of these articles, along with an article written by a citizen who has had personal experience with our school.

This was the first year in which I have administered the tests and the process did indeed live up to what educators and children alike have described as a demeaning and debilitating experience. The BCTF sent a bulletin listing concerns about FSA testing on teaching and learning. My students and I experienced many of these negative aspects:

  • loss of instructional time
  • teaching to the test
  • less interesting instructional practices
  • less varied assessment strategies
  • test anxiety
  • less successful students giving up on themselves and learning (this was most alarming to me as an educator).

The administration of this test has demoralized my students and me. Our school community has suffered humiliation. We deserve a response that is not a form letter hastily posted by one of your office administrators. It is hoped that your office and offices of The Fraser Institute, will take pause to consider the very real children and school communities who suffer for your cause.

Future leaders and voters await a meaningful reply.

Maureen Ireland, Dormick Park Elementary School, Abbotsford.

Student letters

"I don’t think the FSAs tests are right! All the government is doing on it is judging! I promised I would never be in the government because I don’t want kids hating me. One kid in my class was crying! I bet you don’t like to see kids cry. There is no reason for this test. If they want to see how we are doing, send them a copy of our report card! We are just learning all the stuff just for the test! I was wondering could you help me? Help all of us. You can help by not making everybody take this dumb test! How do [you] think it makes us feel about people writing bad stuff about us in the newspaper? I hope we made a point! Please help us."

"We don’t like FSAs!! It makes me feel tired. I asked my Grandma if I could stay home because I hate FSAs and once she said ok, but I was lucky that time. All the other times it was no, no, no. FSAs are boring. It takes time out of work and fun. Sometimes people go home sad, mad, and it makes them want to die. That’s what it makes others feel. So stop this FSA test."

"Why do we have to do FSA tests? When you were little, did you do FSA tests? If you did, did you like doing them? There was a kid in our class that started crying. Do you want kids to cry? I think Dormick Park is the kindest school ever. We’re non-judging and loving. Dormick Park is a virtuous school! We have no bullies, great rules, caring kids and teachers, and we persevere!"

"We are tired of FSA tests. They make me feel like crying. I feel dumb and embarrassed."

"I didn’t like the FSAs. Well it wasn’t really the test, it was what you were doing with the test that bugs me. At least half of my class doesn’t like FSAs and there are 31 of us."

"I felt like I was the worst of all and there were butterflies in my stomach and I felt nervous. I don’t like the FSA tests. I really don’t."

"I thought that there was no point in making children and teenagers do the FSA because all it does is make us worried and stressed. It also made one of the kids in our class cry. These are all of the feelings it gave me—upset, frustrated, dumb, unintelligent, confused, tired, angry, and worried. FSAs can’t judge our school because the people that run it haven’t been to Dormick Park."

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