Division News Article

Rising to the challenge: Provincial Achievement Tests

May 8th, 2019

Grades 6 and 9 students across the province have started writing Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs). These standardized tests reflect the essentials that all Alberta students are expected to achieve, regardless of school choice or location.

Challenged to improve

Parents might recall that our division’s results from last year had room for improvement. Our teachers have focused attention on the learning outcomes in Math. They continue to develop strong literacy skills as well. We know that our students have been working hard to improve their skills in both literacy and numeracy. This is their chance to show the results of this hard work!

Why are the 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.

When are the PATs?

Each school has a block of days during which they can schedule the tests. There are separate tests for English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science. French Immersion students also do the French Language Arts. Tests with two parts, such as the Language Arts PATs, have the first part in May. The rest are done over the last five to eight days of school in June. Students generally do just one test per day. Please check with your child’s teachers for your school’s PAT schedule.

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.

We have also posted a series of Numeracy resources for parents on the PHPS 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!