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Spring means many things; PATs shouldn’t be one of them

May 29, 2018

This... from ATA President, Greg Jeffrey

In the spring a teacher’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of … provincial achievement tests? My apologies to Alfred Lord Tennyson, but I now feel like I have your attention.

Every year grades 6 and 9 teachers of language arts, math, science and social studies are thinking about PATs but in different ways. For some it is a situation where all else becomes secondary, while for others these tests are just part of the regular passing of the school year.

This is not that some care more about the success of their students than others, or that some do not see the results of a single-day snapshot as an accurate indicator of student achievement, but it is much more likely the result of outside pressures put on them. Some school systems require the results of the PATs to be reported to parents with the June report card, which requires classroom teachers to mark the government’s exam. The temptation then is to use this assessment as the final exam to preserve time for teaching and learning — all this for an exam regime that was announced as being phased out back in May 2013, fulfilling Association policy that dates back to 1990.

There are so many better things to turn our fancy
to as the school year winds down. 

Because of a dreadful rollout of the Student Level of Achievement (SLAs), the end of grade 6 and 9 PATs was put on hold. These accountability measures have been a big part of the discussions on public assurance as the curriculum
rewrite continues.

Since we have not yet seen the end of this testing, maybe in the interim we could at least return to some past practices. When I began teaching, only one subject was tested each year. My excitement for the Olympic years was tempered by the math PAT. Perhaps a sampling of students would suffice to assure the public that the curriculum is being taught. Either of these would reduce the anxiety felt by both students and teachers until these tests meet their well-deserved end. There are so many better things to turn our fancy to as the school year winds down. ❚

I welcome your comments — contact me at

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