It’s that dreaded time of year for Grade 4 and Grade 7 teachers… FSAs.
FSA survival is an art-form, and each school and district approaches it differently. As a professional forced to endure them, I have had to come up with a way to not gnaw out my liver in frustration during FSA week. Even more so as I teach a split class, so half my students are doing the test, while the other half are not.
So much wasted time!
My approach has been to try and minimize the waste. Instead of letting the FSA writing sample simply disappear into the aether, I decided to use it as a writing sample for assessment purposes. After all, second term report cards are coming up fast. I also have my non-FSA-year splits write the short and long writing piece as well, providing them with the same prompt and frame. I keep a photocopy of the short and long write from the FSA booklets, and use them to provide information for writing report card comments and to help me recognize what skills we need to work on as a whole class.
It helps to have a use for the FSAs that supports my work as a teacher in the classroom. I have been able to let go of some of the bile and frustration these weeks engender (especially as the whole school loses all our computers for 2 weeks while we cycle our students through doing the online portions). It’s also kind of nice to see if how I mark them matches the marks that return from the windowless rooms where various contracted teachers churn through hundreds of submissions in ridiculously short amounts of time. I have serious concerns about the way the FSAs are marked; at the same time, it is always nice to see if your benchmark grading is consistent with that of your colleagues.
Now, if they’d just stop giving the Fraser Institute access to the information…
This blog will feature Intermediate and Middle Years teachers who are passionate about their teaching and love to share!