New student-friendly assessment to replace PATs
RVS superintendent calls switch "a great idea"
Thursday, May 16, 2013 12:38 pm
ROCKY VIEW SCHOOLS (RVS) WILL SOON BE REPLACING PROVINCIAL ACHIEVEMENT TESTS (PATS) WITH A NEW MORE STUDENT-FRIENDLY ASSESSMENT TAKEN BY GRADE 3, 6 AND 9 STUDENTS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SCHOOL YEAR.
The new Student Learning Assessments (SLA) were announced by Alberta Education Minister Jeff Johnson on May 9, and will allow students, parents and teachers a snapshot of the student’s strengths and where he or she might need to improve.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Greg Bass, RVS superintendent of schools.
He said the PATs are not a bad assessment tool but the new SLA will shift the purpose of the assessment to be a diagnostic tool.
“I think using a diagnostic tool on the front end of the school year is very powerful,” he said.
“Kids learn at their own pace, and we need to make sure parents and teachers are informed about how kids are doing and where they might need help,” Johnson said.
“Moving the provincial assessment to the start of the school year allows more time to identify areas where kids might need some extra attention and get them the support they need to succeed.”
The test will maintain a strong focus on literacy and numeracy, but will also help educators and parents understand how well the student demonstrates competencies such as creativity, critical thinking and problem solving, according to a press release from the Province.
“This is very good news for Alberta students and parents,” said Alberta Teachers’ Association President Carol Henderson.
“The current testing program provided little value for learning and did not fit with the vision of Inspiring Education,” she added.
Bass said the new assessment will give a more holistic view of the student and a better understanding of the child’s learning.
He added the SLA will bring students into the assessment process and better reflects real-life situations in the work world.
As an example, he said when he is assessed in his role as superintendent he is not given a letter or percentage grade but instead is involved in a dialog around what he is doing well and what he could improve upon.
The new SLA will better provide learners the understanding of how they will be assessed and involve them in the process, Bass said.
A pilot program of consisting of a number Grade 3 classes in Alberta will begin in September 2014 with full implementation of SLA for Grade 3 expected by September 2015.
Pilots for Grade 6 and 9 are expected to begin in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Bass said he is unsure if RVS will be a part of the pilot project as the schools involved have not been announced, but he said, “we’d love to be involved.”