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Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA)

An initiative of the Ministry of Education & Child Care

What is the FSA?

The FSA is an initiative of the Ministry of Education and Child Care which is grounded in the School Act and its associated Regulations. All public school districts are obligated to run the FSA and provide the necessary assessment time for it to occur. Designed by BC teachers and other educators, it is a set of interactive exercises that measure both literacy and numeracy.

The main purpose of the FSA is to provide the province, school districts, schools, teachers and parents with an important measure on how students are progressing in their development of the foundation skills of literacy and numeracy. The assessments are linked to the provincial curriculum and provincial performance standards. The FSA is the only provincial assessment on literacy and numeracy available at the elementary level and is one of the important tools that districts use to help gauge student progress. It forms an integral part of our annual Framework for Enhancing Student Learning (FESL) report that we submit to the Ministry.

First Nations rightsholders and Indigenous organizations (e.g., First Nations Leadership Council) have expressed the importance of FSA results in advancing our shared commitment to reconciliation. The FSA provides an important line-of-sight into the learning trajectories for Indigenous learners as well as other student groups.   

The FSA is part of the Grade 4 and 7 curriculum.

History of the FSA

The FSA was introduced in 2000. During the first three years, it tested the performance of BC students in grades 4, 7 and 10. The New Graduation Program subsequently added provincial assessments to grade 10 students, and therefore eliminated the need for the FSA at this grade level. Since 2004, the FSA has only been administered to students in grades 4 and 7. 

FSA Time Commitment

The FSA timeline is set each year by the Ministry and typically happens in the fall. The Saanich School District FSA assessments are then scored by a team of Saanich teachers and administrators.

In Saanich, school administrators organize the FSA for their schools. This includes scheduling, communicating with parents, registering students for the FSA, meeting with teachers, and interpreting results/data for school planning. Administrators also generally lead the online delivery of FSA, while classroom teachers typically lead the booklet components. As FSA is a provincially planned activity, teachers do not spend any significant time preparing for the FSA in advance.

Total assessment time for students: 3.75 hours

  • Online computer time: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Non-computer booklet time: 105 minutes (1.75 hours)
  • Most schools break this up into about four sessions
  • Students may be given additional time to complete the assessment if required.

For students who are not participating in the FSA, alternate activities will vary by school, student and teacher. A few examples:

  • Working on unfinished work or current projects, silent reading, etc.
  • Placement in another age-appropriate/buddy class
  • Completing some of the FSA literacy or numeracy booklet curricular activities as part of classroom instruction.

Student Supports

The student supports available in the classroom are also in place for the FSA. The Ministry and Saanich Schools have worked hard to ensure the FSA is integrated as much as possible into our inclusive classrooms. Questions are designed with multiple access points and choice.

Supports for all students include:

  • Any student support that is established and routinely used in the classroom (e.g. speech to text software, word walls)
  • Any teacher support that is routinely used in the classroom (e.g. a prompt, a clarification, a strategy…)
  • Any student support recommendation from the school Learning Services Team
  • Extra time (there are no longer prescribed FSA time limits)
  • Social/emotional teacher supports, encouragement, breaks, etc.
  • Large print option for online FSA

Supports for some students with IEPs include:

  • Using the built-in text reading software feature for online FSA
  • Depending on the particular learning profile for a student, the Learning Support team may recommend a student partially complete the FSA.
  • All documented IEP supports are accommodated (e.g. braille, scribes, EA support, text-reading software, readers, etc.)

Summary Comments

The FSA has been adjusted over time from feedback provided by BC educators and is continually being modified as more feedback is received. No assessment is perfect – even those designed by school districts, schools or teachers. That being said, having a provincially-based assessment, together with school and district assessments, form a more complete picture of student success. Provincial assessments also have the advantage of being attached to the student allowing for their progress to be tracked over time (i.e. Gr 4, 7, 10). FSA and other provincial assessments do NOT count towards a student’s mark, but do provide a snapshot into their progress in the key areas of literacy and numeracy.

Learn more about FSA at the Ministry site