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Alberta empowers more students to succeed

Alberta is giving teachers more tools to help students succeed by introducing new, more student-friendly assessments that will replace the existing Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs).

“Kids learn at their own pace, and we need to make sure parents and teachers are informed about how kids are doing and where they might need help,” said Education Minister Jeff Johnson. “Moving the provincial assessment to the start of the school year allows more time to identify areas where kids might need some extra attention and get them the support they need to succeed.”

The series of new computer-based tests - known as Student Learning Assessments - will be developed by experts and administered at the start of Grades 3, 6 and 9. This will better enable parents and teachers to be aware of a child’s strengths or areas needing improvement over the course of the school year to support more personalized learning.

"Assessing children's literacy and numeracy skills at the beginning of the school year is a step in the right direction," said Brad Vonkeman, president of the Alberta School Councils' Association. “This shift should encourage a greater focus on each student's individual learning needs and promote better communication between teachers and parents."

The tests maintain a strong focus on literacy and numeracy, but will also help educators and parents understand how well students demonstrate competencies such as creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving.

“This is very good news for Alberta students and parents,” said Carol Henderson, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. “I congratulate the Premier on fulfilling this important campaign promise. The current testing program provided little value for learning and did not fit with the vision of Inspiring Education. The Alberta Teachers’ Association looks forward to working with government to develop this new program that will advance student learning.”

“This change will ensure that each Alberta student will now start Grade 3 with a snapshot of his/her strengths and where they may need to improve,” said Jacquie Hansen, president of the Alberta School Boards Association. “From there, students, parents and teachers will draw up an individual roadmap to build on each student’s strengths and to address each student’s challenges. Follow through will be key to make this individualized learning possible.”

While most students are comfortable taking such tests on a computer, traditional paper copies will also be available.

Grade 3 students will be first to write the new assessments, with pilots starting in September 2014. Full implementation for Grade 3 is expected by September 2015. Pilots for Grades 6 and 9 are scheduled to begin in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Alberta Education will continue to work with the Alberta Teachers’ Association, Alberta School Boards’ Association, College of Alberta School Superintendents, Alberta School Councils’ Association and the Alberta Assessment Consortium to develop and test the Student Learning Assessment process.

Our government was elected to keep building Alberta, to live within its means and to fight to open new markets for Alberta’s resources. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.

Media inquiries may be directed to:
Kim Capstick
Press Secretary
Alberta Education
780-415-1650
780-405-2983 (cell)
Kim.Capstick@gov.ab.ca
Twitter: @Kim_Cap

To call toll free within Alberta dial 310-0000.