Division News Article

Returning to Normal: Provincial Achievement Tests

May 10th, 2022

We are thrilled to have our schools begin to return to more normal activities as we emerge from the pandemic and build upon the strong communities we live and work in. Students in Grade 6 and 9 will start writing the Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) once again. It has been three years since students wrote the PATs and it will be a challenge but also an opportunity to take stock of where we are and to return to a path of greater normalcy.

Identifying where we are

Remote learning, isolation and constant changes have put pressure on students, staff and family. Our division has invested in supporting students who have had more learning challenges than otherwise would have occurred due to COVID-19. Our teachers’ focus throughout these challenges has been to continue to develop strong literacy and numeracy skills and the PATs will provide us with a baseline for where students are at coming out of the pandemic. For many students this will be their first PAT and there will be lots of apprehension as they prepare for these standardized tests. This is their opportunity to demonstrate what they know and to acknowledge their resilience, hard work and determination.

Why are PATs important?

The Provincial Achievement Tests are an opportunity for students to show their growth. The tests measure individual achievement according to the standards in the Programs of Study. Many students can use their score as a reason for celebration. The PATs also identify specific learning outcomes where teachers might need to refine instruction. Teachers use individual student and group results to help them prepare next year’s plans. PATs are one of several indicators that allow teachers and students to identify the next steps in learning. Critical thinking, curiosity, other assessments and observational data also help staff determine the learning needs of each student and provide opportunities for continued growth.

When are the PATs?

There are separate tests for English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science. French Immersion students also do the French Language Arts. Part A of the Language Arts tests will take place on two specific days in May:

Monday, May 16th

  • Grade 6 French LA Part A
  • Grade 9 English LA Part A
  • Grade 9 K&E English LA Part A

Wednesday, May 18th

  • Grade 6 English LA Part A
  • Grade 9 French LA Part A

The remaining tests will be administered between June 13th and 24th with specific schedules set by each school.

What can parents do?

Help to make sure students come to school well rested and enthusiastic. Parents can also influence the mood with which students approach the tests.

  • Please promote the tests as a challenge, one that they are confident their kids are ready for
  • Talk to them about what the tests are for and demonstrate that you value the information (even more than the results)
  • When parents show value in something, students tend to value it too

You can downplay the potential for exam stress.

  • Help your children know that the main way to avoid exam stress is being prepared ahead of time
  • You can help by setting students up with opportunities to practice at home

Review skills using teacher materials and items listed below:

  • Review one subject a day
  • Reviewing for 15 minutes a day for several weeks is better than doing 3 hours the night before a test
  • Do the questions on the practice tests (see practice questions in the Alberta Ed Parent Guides listed below)
  • Don’t ignore the strengths. Start with what they are good at already. Build on their confidence.
  • Don’t panic if students don’t know something. There is still time. Collaborate with their teachers to fill the gaps.
  • Remind students that they have plenty of time during the test.

The day of the test:

  • Make sure your son or daughter is well rested and well fed
  • Give them a bottle of water to drink during the test
  • Be motivating and encouraging
  • Remind them to take their time and be thorough

After each test:

  • Ask your son or daughter how the tests went:
    • What questions seemed easy? What seemed hard?
    • How did they feel before, during and after the test?
    • How did they stay calm?
  • Is there anything they need to change as they prepare for the next one?
  • Ask them how you can help

Resources for parents

In addition to a thorough explanation of the PAT process, the Alberta Education guides have sample questions and can assist students when preparing for the test.

Grade 6 Parent Guide

Grade 9 Parent Guide

We have also posted a series of Numeracy resources for parents on the PHSD website: Supporting student learning at home

Schools and teachers may have additional test preparation resources.

Together, we can help our students demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Let’s make this something to celebrate!