Large-Scale Assessment

Date came into force or revised

September 29, 2017



Policy statement

British Columbia conducts large-scale assessments to obtain information for the purposes of ensuring public accountability, monitoring students’ progress and ensuring 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 provincial graduation assessments. 


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)

Related legislation:

  • School Act, section 17: Teachers' responsibilities
  • School Act, section 168 (2) (d) (d.1): Jurisdiction of minister
  • School Act, section 174: Appointment of Boards of Examiners

Policy in Full

The term large-scale assessment refers to any provincial, national or international assessment, examination or test the Ministry directs boards of education to administer.  

British Columbia students, teachers, principals, and other school officials must participate in the Foundation Skills Assessment, provincial graduation assessments, and national and international assessments as required by the Minister.

The Ministry of Education and Child Care provides test specifications and sample test questions for all provincial assessments. The ministry may designate as secure all or part of any specific assessment.

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.

Provincial Graduation Assessments 

There are two provincial graduation assessments, one for numeracy, and one for literacy. The numeracy assessment will be introduced in January 2018; the proposed literacy assessment will be introduced subsequently. In the interim, the Grade 12 Language Arts suite of exams remains in place.

The new provincial numeracy assessment will focus on the application of core numeracy knowledge, skills and key concepts learned up to grade 10. Students may take this assessment in grade 10, 11 or 12 and may retake this assessment (up to three times in total) before they graduate. Completing this assessment is a graduation requirement and the results of the assessment will appear on a student’s transcript. 

In the 2017/18 school year, students enrolled in Language Arts 12 courses will continue to take a Language Arts 12 exam. The Language Arts 12 exams are anticipated to be phased out after the introduction of the proposed literacy assessment. 

To graduate, students must participate in these provincial graduation assessments, unless they have already completed a Grade 12 Language Arts graduation program exam or a Grade 10 Mathematics graduation program exam.   

For more information, see the Handbook of Procedures for the graduation program, which is typically updated and available to schools in early September, for each school year.  

Procedures related to policy

The Ministry is responsible for the following procedures related to provincial large-scale assessments:

  • 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.