No follow-up call for parents opting out of tests

NANAIMO – Parents encouraged to seek more information on Foundation Skills Assessment tests.

Parents in Nanaimo will not be receiving followup calls if they decide against allowing their children to take the Foundation Skills Assessment in 2015.

The testing, which examines reading, writing and math skills for Grade 4 and 7 students, will take place across the Nanaimo school district until Feb. 20. The school board passed a motion on Jan. 14 that will see school staff honouring parents’ decisions whether their children take the test.

In the past, there were some instances where parents that opted out received calls from principals that were “pressing very hard,” according to Mike Ball, Nanaimo teachers’ union president.

School regulations allow parents to withdraw children from testing for three reasons: family emergency, long-term illness or extenuating circumstances, said Ball.

“We’ve said all along if they have that right – that right should be respected and honoured,” Ball said.

A letter from Steve Rae, board chairman, was sent out presenting impartial information on testing.

“I wrote a letter that essentially says to parents, ‘You’re going to get a letter from the [teachers’ union], you’re going to get a letter from the school board. We recognize that the FSA testing is controversial. Please do your homework, here are links to pros of FSA, here are links to the cons of FSA, as presented by each person.

“If that’s not enough information for you, ask for more information, but if at the end of the day you feel that your child doesn’t want to take that test, we will respect your wishes,’” said Rae.