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NEWS RELEASE · 17th January 2011
Ministry of Education
Open Letter to Parents of Grades 4 and 7 Students:
The ability to read, write and solve math problems are vital skills every child needs in life. Developed by B.C. teachers and administered each winter to B.C. students, the Foundation Skills Assessments (FSA) are a set of reading, writing and numeracy tests that give you, as parents, important information about your child.

These tests show where children excel and where they struggle. For example, FSA reading scores are a reliable predictor of whether your child will graduate from school on time. It allows you to work together with your child's teacher to identify problems and take action early on, so that your child will be successful later on in their schooling.

Without strong foundation skills, students entering their high-school years can become disengaged from their education. We want every student to be able to fully pursue their passion in education and become lifelong learners.

The tests also allow your child's teacher to see how students in their classroom compare to others across the province. This important data is used by teachers and principals to identify problems, propose solutions and interventions, and share best practices.

As a parent, you have the right to know how your child is performing. The FSA program, which takes less than 10 hours of your child's time between kindergarten and Grade 8, is an important building block for your child's future success.

Contrary to misinformation, the FSA is not optional - if you have any questions, please contact your child's principal. Also, a pamphlet on FSA is available online at:

Please ensure your child writes this year's FSA. Checking your child's learning abilities in these early years is just like having regular medical check-ups. The results may be critical to ensuring their success in high school and beyond.

Margaret MacDiarmid
Minister of Education
Government of British Columbia
I have a problem here... in particular w/ #3
Comment by Maggie Johnson on 26th March 2011
#1) Don't breed unless you're committed to raising a child to be a good, productive member of society, and spending time with them in homework duty (it's not all about the teachers teaching our children. Parents need to accept their role and be engaged as well).
#2) SPEND time with your child while he/she is pulling homework duty. I know it's hard at times. I often use a magnet to post a spelling word sheet on the oven fan to test my child while I'm preparing dinner.
#3) Stacey's comment " If you guys are satisfied with a generation of dumbed down factory workers" is painfully insulting. These "factory workers" support their families and their communities. Stacey, my husband is a factory worker, but he's NOT dumbed down. He is an awesome human being - a fantastic and committed worker who takes pride in his job and comes home to give up tons of sleep after his shiftwork to pull family duties and helps his children with their homework and extra-curricular activities - when he's bagged from shift work! We opted to put our children in Private school and are still taxed for the Public School system which we don't partake in. Oh well. I'll pay the taxes for OTHER children in the public sector in hopes my tax dollars are respected that way. pride yourself as a good parent who hosts great parental skills, as you help your child with homework. Puh-LEASE don't let your child read your article on how you painted a picture of "factory workers". You would be truly failing as a parent if you did.
Stacey 2
Comment by Steve Simons on 24th January 2011
Sorry Stacey, I re-read your post and noticed that you made a very good point. I agree with your statement. I do still believe, however, that supplementary help from family is beneficial. We all know that the government won't be able to improve education without raising taxes, and everyone hates that, so it seems like the only quick-fix to help the children succeed.
Comment by Steve Simons on 24th January 2011

It's very true that the school system has room for improvement. It's nearly impossible, though, for one teacher to ensure that all 20-30 students in his/her class are succeeding, especially in today's world.

That's why I mentioned that parental involvement is essential. I'm not a factory worker, and neither is anyone else in my family. My brother is a 4.00+ GPA student on his way to a BSc, I'm a BComm student, and my sister is finished school and is doing what she loves working with children. I firmly believe that we owe our success to our parents. They made sure that we did our homework, made sure we understood what we were learning, and made sure we were getting the best of our education.

When I look back to my grade 7 class, I can name classmates who are carpenters, welders, medical students, nurses, etc.

In the same class, I can name classmates who are drug dealers and criminals that have been in and out of jail.

We all went to school together from K-7, we all read the same textbooks and took the same courses. Is it the governments fault that some students failed? Is it to their credit that other students are successful?
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 24th January 2011
Steve and Steve, I for one work with my daughter on her school work.

However we do all pay taxes towards the education of our children. And education that they are entitled to by social morality AND legislation.

The continuous cuts to education simply acknowledge you get what you pay for. If you guys are satisfied with a generation of dumbed down factory workers, that is your business. I am not. not ALL parents are going to take personal responsibility but why is that the fault of the child?

Why should the children suffer for that? Our children, all of them... deserve a proper education that allows them to compete in the world and allows them the opportunity the same as the child next to them.
my goodness
Comment by Steve Smyth on 21st January 2011
Steve, you're not actually advocating personal responsibility are you? -
Whatever are we going to do when an entire generation of kids suddenly realizes that yes, someone else can tell them what time to be at work, what they should wear and that yes, they are responsible for their own choices

Whatever will we do?

Comment by Steve Simons on 19th January 2011
If you're so unsatisfied with the government and the school system, why not take matters into your own hands? Rather than complain that your child is reading and writing at a level below other children his/her age, take the time to sit down and help them succeed.

Show that you care and in turn they too will care. If you don't put in the effort, neither will they. Your child's success in school and life is dependent on you, the PARENT.
The purposeof FSA's
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 18th January 2011
It is plain politics. You know the old saying "BS baffles brains." This is a way for the government to give the impression it is doing something to solve a problem.

There are no funds attached if outcomes are not met. Poor scores don't mean you qualify for more resources. Poor results just mean you blame the teacher because the teacher sees the student for 5 hours of the day and the rest of the time they watch T.V. or play video games. That's the political bonus. The politicians get to blame teachers for the failure of the educational system starved for resources. It is an education minister's political orgasm.
Re: What to do what to do
Comment by C Parent on 18th January 2011
Maggie asked "And if they can't read, write and 'rithmatic then what's going to happen."

Well, the simple answer is nothing. If by the end of the year a student in K-7 does not meet the learning outcomes, then they receive a social promotion to the next grade. This social promotion comes from the administration in most cases. A teacher can recommend a child repeat a year, but that won't happen in this school district.
Comment by Jurgen Franz on 18th January 2011
So what happens when a kid comes to school, tired, no breakfast, no recess snack and then sits down to write an FSA test by choosing his answers at random, and failing drastically. Is he considered a "failure" and not ready for High School, get a grip minister of education, the FSA's are a complete joke, period.
What to do, What to do?
Comment by Maggie on 18th January 2011
And if they can't read, write and 'rithmatic then what's going to happen ---- maybe ask the teachers who taught them for the last 4 or 7 years what happened?
One more dumb questions
Comment by Shawn Ksisiiaks on 17th January 2011
Why don't they make adults take these tests to see how useful these foundation skills are in the real world?

Ever see "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?"

Another dumb question
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 17th January 2011
And here's another dumb question, what are they actually going to DO about it, when our children aren't making the grade?
More Liberal Govt Garbage
Comment by C Parent on 17th January 2011
The minister indicates that these FSA tests are to help us find out where our children are in their reading, writing and numeracy.... um... this may be a dumb question, but what are report cards for then?