Do PATs truly test school children?
According to the fourth quarter results of the Alberta Education Accountability Pillar Online Report Initiative (APORI), Rocky View Schools (RVS) students performance is steadily improving. (See story on page 22).
The only exception to the improvement is RVS’ scores on Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT).
School officials attribute the struggle with PAT scores to the fact that it is difficult to accurately depict the knowledge of a student through a pen-and-paper test.
RVS prides itself on its 21 century learning protocol that includes technology and innovative teaching techniques.
We can understand that it may be difficult to show how much a student has learned in a dynamic, hands-on environment with an old-fashioned testing method.
Children learn in many different ways.
Some excel with a lecture-style environment, some are more successful with visual aids and others work best with one-on-one attention.
Some students learn and retain information but cannot translate that knowledge into correct answers on a test.
Others become so nervous during tests that they cannot demonstrate what they have learned.
Some can make educated guesses and the test may not reflect their knowledge at all.
We are not disputing the fact that teachers need to “test” students’ knowledge to determine how much they are retaining and when they should or should not advance to the next grade.
However, it is time the educational system caught up with the real world and started finding innovative testing techniques that can truly show what our children know.
We are not saying this will be an easy task but we think it is a necessary one.