Thursday August 21, 2014

NDP questions testing plan


When the Saskatchewan government released its Vision 2020 plan in 2012 one of the planks of the plan for growth was improving student performance.

Part of the strategy was introducing student assessments. The Early Years Evaluation (EYE) and Tell Them From Me (TTFM) Survey were rolled out almost immediately and are still in use.

In the 2013-2014 budget, the Province earmarked another $5.4 million for student achievement including some funds for standardized testing money that again appeared in the 2014-15 budget.

Last week, in an open letter to the editor, Trent Wotherspoon, NDP deputy leader and education critic slammed the government for withholding these funds and called for an immediate cancellation of standardized testing plans.

“It’s mind-boggling to think this government would spend money on expensive software for testing that experts say is not helpful for students, rather than using that money to support teachers, restore the role of educational assistants or lower the class sizes—things that help students get the one-on-one attention they need and deserve,” Wotherspoon wrote.

“Instead of pause, the minister needs to hit the stop and delete button on this wrong-headed standardized testing scheme and redirect those funds to where they matter.”

Greg Miller, education assistant deputy minister, said the government put the plan on hold because stakeholders complained about a lack of engagement. It embarked on a province-wide consultation process dubbed “Students First” that so far has heard from more than 500 students, parents and teachers in 18 communities, as well as, 22 education and community organizations according to Colleen Book, a communications consultant with the ministry.

Miller said the money in the current budget is a carryover from last year and whether it will be spent will depend on feedback from the consultation.



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