PAT editorial hits the mark
Re: Editorial: “Provincial Achievement Tests broken.”
As a teacher for 31 years in Alberta and a parent of four children, I have felt that the administration of the PATs is increasingly useless to my teaching practice. PATs also tell me nothing about the quality of education that my own children are receiving. For this reason, we exempted our kids from writing the PATs in all subjects, which is our prerogative as parents. I understand that their school receives a zero for not writing, but I don’t care. I do care that they are receiving a well-rounded education, including academics, sports and social well-being.
As a professional, I create my own final exams using the program of studies and standards documents provided to me by Alberta Education. I place little emphasis on the Grade 9 PAT and do not get stressed about it. Do I spend some time practising the released exams from previous years with my students? Yes, I do. Do these standardized exams drive how I teach and what I teach? No, they do not.
What I found interesting from your recent editorial was the paragraph about how the tests have changed.
“Teachers had an opportunity to use the information to reflect on their practice and to use the test items as a learning tool in future years. That is now gone. In its place, we have secret anchor items that are used to see if students are getting better over time. And get this: if student learning actually improves over time, then the tests get marked harder in future years!”
Thank you for hitting the nail on the head, again! ❚
Sundre High School
On class size
It’s not only class size. From my 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher, class composition and supports are equally as important as size.
Perhaps we could shave several fat-cat school board positions and add classroom teachers and teachers for students with complex learning needs to help our students succeed: in academics and mental wellness.
The government needs to establish and ensure that all boards adhere to a set out student–teacher ratio. Diverse learning needs should also be considered in that ratio. I think a mandatory cap on class size per grade is needed.
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