I was disappointed to read about Heather Park’s FSA result ranking in the local paper. I’d like to provide an asterisk beside this information so people can understand the context of these results — kind of like Barry Bonds’ home run records, only in reverse.
Last year, public schools in BC struggled to maintain routines and “business as usual” expectations during the labour dispute between the teachers and the provincial government. As a result of the dispute, teachers did not administer the Foundation Skills Assessment in any schools — which is normally part of their annual duties. And while the BCTF has opposed aspects of the FSA testing in the past, they have always handled their responsibility in this area with professionalism — by supporting their students and organizing the delivery of the tests within the the context of their regular classroom routines.
Last year this responsibility fell upon school principals. At Heather Park, we had more than 160 students in grades 4 and 7 that needed to write the five part assessment in written and online formats. In effort to meet our responsibility with respect to the FSA, Joanne Shaw, Vice Principal, and I organized students and scheduled the testing over the course of two weeks last February. Unfortunately, this required students to write en masse, with little of the normal support and personal direction provided by classroom teachers. So although the tests were administered and students were given the chance to write them according to the directions provided by the Ministry of Education, Joanne and I were aware at the time that many students did not give the normal effort and attention to provide an accurate reflection of their abilities.
I am saddened to think that some people may draw false conclusions about the abilities of our students and the efforts of the Heather Park staff from the FSA rankings. Over the last three years I watched with overwhelming pride and amazement as parents, students and staff banded together and made this school into an extraordinary place to learn, live and play. In addition to the great academic work of our teachers and support staff in the classrooms, Heather Park also addresses the needs of the whole child by offering French Immersion, Hockey Academy, Wood Shop, Fine Arts (Visual, Choir, Theatre) as well as numerous clubs, sports and spelling bees. Heather Park is also considered a leader in the district with respect to Social Emotional Learning as we implement positive behavior support strategies across our school. Lastly, the parents of this school are second to none. Their work to support learning and student safety by being in the school and helping to make our property fun and accessible is truly beyond anything I expected when arriving three years ago.
We are Heroes at Heather Park — any way you look at it. So if anyone asks you about FSA rankings from last year, please smile and take a minute to let them know the rest of the story.