Only about half of Grade 10 students in B.C. wrote mandatory student assessment tests in 2019-2020, according to data from Vancouver's Fraser Institute.
Shockingly, 60 per cent of those who wrote the tests were not proficient in numeracy, a study by the public policy think-tank reveals.
Only 17 schools recorded participation rates of 90 per cent or more for the literacy and numeracy assessments, which are supposedly mandatory, unless a parent formally withdraws their child.
"Not only are Grade 10 participation rates in B.C.’s Grade 10 student assessments worryingly low, but the results also show low levels of academic proficiency in core subjects," says report co-author Paige MacPherson, associate director of education at the Fraser Institute.
The study found that only 52 per cent of students completed the literacy assessment, and only 47 per cent completed the numeracy assessment.
Only 40 per cent of participating students scored proficient or above in numeracy, while 75 per cent scored proficient or above in literacy.
The tests, formerly known as foundation skills assessments, have long been a thorn in the side of teachers.
Some school districts have called for them to be scrapped, along with school rankings by groups like the Fraser Institute based on that data.
That's because it's felt the data entrenches socio-economic divides when schools from wealthy neighbourhoods and communities inevitably score highest.
However, the institute's MacPherson says that "a number of factors have left a significant gap in critical student testing, and at the same time, we can see students are struggling.
"Standardized testing is a critical tool that helps schools improve student performance, and parents and educators should make increased participation a priority."
COVID-19 related school closures, a push from the B.C. Teachers Federation for parents to pull their children from standardized testing, and a significant change to the nature of student testing in B.C. may have all contributed to the gap in testing data, the Fraser Institute acknowledges.