Whether you wrote them, taught them, or talked to your kids about them, as residents of British Columbia we know them well: The Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA's). But have you ever wondered who writes these annual, provincial assessments?
As a member for the past two years, Grade 3 teacher Ms. Stephanie Morris is part of the seven-member team who meets throughout the year to develop questions for future FSA's for Grade 4 students. The FSA's are administered at both the Grade 4 and 7 levels, to assess students' progressions in reading, writing, and numeracy, and are created by teachers and administrators from across the province and the Yukon. On Ms. Morris' team, that includes a principle, a vice principal, a superintendent and teachers from public and private schools. Together, they come up with questions that will appear on future assessments, forming ones that will provide important insight into students' progression. "The FSA's are standardized tests," Ms. Morris explains, "there's no way around that." However, the group works diligently to write assessments that are meant to be meaningful and provide guidance. The aim is not to stump students; it's to equip teachers with results early on, helping them to address points of confusion at both the class-wide and individual student levels.
"The FSA's are standardized tests," Ms. Morris explains, "there's no way around that." However, the group works diligently to write assessments that are meant to be meaningful and provide guidance.
For Ms. Morris, the motivation to join came from her love of Math. As her favourite subject to teach, she was keen to help form the Grade 4 numeracy section of the FSA's. As a member, she meets with teachers from around the province. "It's actually less of a job and more of a chance for professional development," she nods. Through her work, she's able to collaborate with people from all types of schools, focusing on—and really getting to know—the
BC Curriculum. "I think it makes me very aware of the curriculum—coming from an IB school, it's important to know what the BC government's is doing, plans on doing, and to know the Curricular Competencies."
Ms. Morris' work on the Grade 4 Numeracy FSA development team takes her away from class less than 10 days of the school year. During in-session meetings, her team writes and edits questions that will appear on future FSA numeracy assessments.