Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bill to remove Grade 3 PATs

The Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) are standardized tests, designed by Alberta Education, given to Alberta students in grade 3, 6 and 9. In grade 12, the diploma exams are also written by the Alberta government. The tests provide data to see how students all across the province are doing in core subjects. They provide one measure of accountability for school districts. Comparing data from standardized tests provides an indication of areas of strength and areas that need further emphasis- both for individual school districts and education at the provincial level.

Some other context and considerations:
Like any test, the PATs have limitations on what they test (some subjects are not tested, some skills are not tested) and how they test (pencil and paper). Some students are exempted from writing the test, either by parental choice or because the student has cognitive delays or disabilities. If a child does not take the test, they are recorded as a "0" in the school's achievement data. Critics point out that this can negatively skew a school's results, for, in essence, being inclusive of all children. The Fraser Institute uses the data every year to rank schools on their achievement. Critics complain that this is an unfair and incomplete assessment tool for ranking schools and that the data should not be used in this manner.

An MLA is introducing a private member's bill to consider removing the Grade 3 PATs. This will be debated in the Legislature this month. What do you think? I would be interested to hear from you.

Here's an article from the Calgary Herald with more info:

http://www2.canada.com/calgaryherald/news/city/story.html?id=57c63386-1bce-4fa4-bc6b-6ee517819ced&k=65563

1 comment:

C Spencer said...

Last Sunday's episode of the Simpsons was devoted to standardized testing: "Bart joins Ralph and the school's bullies on a trip to Capital City so they don't bring down the school's score on a national achievement test; Lisa, rattled by her score of only 96 percent on a practice test, has trouble with the real thing."

Best scene featured the teachers getting students to memorize common mulitiple choice answer patterns (e.g. c-d-a-c-b-d-a-a).