Sparwood Secondary School. File photo

Southeast Kootenay board of education protests changes to B.C. graduation program

Changes to require additional testing at the end of Grade 12 in order for students to graduate

The Southeast Kootenay board of education is protesting changes to the B.C. Graduation Program that will require additional testing at the end of Grade 12 in order for students to graduate.

The School District 5 (SD5) board passed a motion outlining their concerns at the last board meeting, which echoes concerns from the B.C. Teachers’ Federation.

Frank Lento, the SD5 board chair, sent a letter addressing the issue to provincial political leaders, education partnership organizations and media.

The changes to the B.C. Graduation Program are outside consultations that happened over five years ago and were not part of recommendations in a report from the Advisory Group on Provincial Assessment (AGPA).

The AGPA, which included representatives from partner groups in education, did not endorse any further assessments in order for Grade 12 students to graduate.

“The rationale provided by the government for this additional assessment appears contrary to the findings of the Committee and its extensive work,” reads the letter, “which was the collaborative effort of all education stakeholders to co-construct B.C.’s renewed curriculum and assessments.

“This additional assessment, is in fact, a step backward and is counter to the amazing work our schools are doing around creating lifelong and resilient learning in our students.”

The letter notes the importance of learning through timely assessment to master educational concepts.

“Having an assessment at the end of Grade 12 does nothing to support important learning,” writes Lento. “It simply allows government to ‘check a box’ to satisfy public perception by hitting the ‘easy button’.”

Lento also wrote that there is no proof that parents, teachers, schools and the province receive accurate information on how students are learning based on a standardized assessment.

The SD5 board also notes that the changes are opposed by the B.C. School Superintendent Association.

According to Lento, the BCSSA is concerned with further changes that don’t support evidence based practices regarding student learning, are not aligned with the K-9 educational program and were developed in isolation rather than collaboratively with educational stakeholders.

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