Date came into force or revised
British Columbia conducts large-scale assessments to obtain information for the purposes of ensuring public accountability, improving student achievement and certifying that students meet graduation requirements. The Province also participates in national and international assessments and studies.
Rationale or purpose of policy
Student achievement and performance measures, including the results of large-scale assessments, provide outcome data for decision-making and planning at all levels of the education system. Measuring achievement is important to raising standards and clarifying public expectations that all students receive a quality education.
Students demonstrate that they have met graduation requirements in part by participating in Graduation Exams.
School Act (PDF), Section 168 (2): The minister may make orders for the purpose of carrying out any of the minister's powers, duties or functions under this Act and, without restriction, may make orders…
(b) … determining the general requirements for graduation
from an educational program,
(d) preparing a process for the assessment of the effectiveness of educational
programs and requiring a board or a francophone education authority to cause its
schools to participate in the process for the purpose of comparison to provincial,
national and international standards,
(d.1) preparing a process for measuring individual student performance, and requiring
a board or a francophone education authority to cause its schools to participate in
the process for the purpose of assessing the effectiveness of educational
See Ministerial Order M60/94, the Student Learning Assessment Order (PDF)
See Ministerial Order 302/04, the Graduation Program Order (PDF)
- School Act, Section 17: Teachers' responsibilities
- School Act, Section 168 (2) (d) (d.1): Jurisdiction of minister
- School Act, Section 170.1 (3) (f): Use of Personal Education Numbers
- School Act, Section 174: Appointment of Boards of Examiners
- Order in Council: Board of Examiners (PDF)
Policy in Full
Background on Large-Scale Assessments
The term large scale assessment refers to any provincial, national or international assessment, examination or test the Ministry directs boards of education to administer.
A primary purpose of large-scale provincial, national and international assessments and examinations is to obtain information for the purposes of public accountability, improving programs and certifying that students meet graduation requirements.
Large-scale assessments and examinations determine students' knowledge and skills in particular areas of learning. Assessment information enables educational decision-makers at the classroom, district and provincial levels to make informed choices related to improving student achievement.
British Columbia students, teachers, principals, and other school officials must participate in the Foundation Skills Assessment, Graduation Program Examinations, and national and international assessments as required by the Minister.
The Ministry of Education provides test specifications and sample test questions for all provincial assessments and examinations. The Ministry may designate as secure specific assessments and examinations, or certain parts of the assessments and examinations.
Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA)
The Foundation Skills Assessment is a large-scale provincial assessment for students in Grades 4 and 7, covering reading, writing and numeracy. Parents are provided with their children’s results on FSA.
FSA results are not part of Student Progress Reports or Permanent Student Records. Schools may choose to include individual students' results in students' files.
Graduation Program Examinations
The following are purposes of Graduation Program Exams:
- ensuring that Grade 10, 11 and 12 students meet consistent provincial standards of achievement in academic subjects
- ensuring that graduating students from all schools in the province are treated equitably when applying for admission to universities and other post-secondary institutions
- enabling students to qualify for provincial scholarships
Provincial examination results may also be used by external organizations such as post secondary institutions.
These exams must be taken by students in order to meet provincial graduation requirements. To earn credits for certain required courses, students take five course-based exams in Language Arts 10 and 12, Science 10, Mathematics 10, and Social Studies 11/12, These examinations are based on learning outcomes of the specific courses. For more information, see the Handbook of Procedures for the Graduation Program.
Exam results are blended with classroom percentages to determine final course percentages and reported on student transcripts as determined by the Ministry. Students' results on Grade 10 and 11 Graduation Program Examinations do not appear separately on student transcripts or Permanent Student Records. Students' results on Grade 12 level Graduation Program Examinations appear on student transcripts.
Board of Examiners
The Board of Examiners provides expert advice to the Ministry of Education. Areas of advice include, but are not limited to, ways to ensure fair treatment of individual students who may need adaptations for examinations or who request a review of a school or Ministry decision regarding students who may have contravened examination procedures.
The Ministry of Education may convene advisory committees to provide advice on provincial large-scale assessments.
Procedures related to policy
The Ministry is responsible for the following procedures related to provincial large-scale assessments and examinations:
- designing and developing tests
- specifying levels of security required
- setting administrative procedures
- establishing procedures to allow students with special needs to have equitable access to assessment
- determining methods of scoring and marking
- releasing and reporting results.
For procedures at the school district level and lists of specific examinations related to the Graduation Program, see the Handbook of Procedures for the Graduation Program.