Redford urged to give PATs a failing grade

A former Lacombe principal who worked for almost a decade in the last years of his career to put an end to provincial achievement tests hopes recent remarks made by Premier Alison Redford are more than just campaign promises.

A former Lacombe principal who worked for almost a decade in the last years of his career to put an end to provincial achievement tests hopes recent remarks made by Premier Alison Redford are more than just campaign promises.

Redford said she would consider ending the province-wide tests for elementary students.

Students in Grades 3, 6 and 9 take the tests in core subjects annually in May and June. The tests cost $4 million annually to administer throughout Alberta.

Retired principal Wayne Hampton, who taught for 33 years in the Wolf Creek Schools and the Northland School Division, said the tests are a waste of provincial money and are not good indicators of a student’s future success.

“It means absolutely nothing,” said Hampton. “There is no correlation of the results of these tests and how well a child is going to do as a contributing citizen 10 or 15 years later.”

Hampton became a strong opponent to the standardized tests during the late 1990s and early 2000s when he was the principal of Lacombe Upper Elementary School. He met with two previous education ministers, fought for a Private Member’s Bill to eliminate the provincial achievement tests program and presented a paper, Towards Responsible Accountability in Education, at the University of Oxford in 2004.

Red Deer Public Schools chairman Lawrence Lee said the standardized tests need to be changed because they are not an adequate reflection of what students are now learning.

“PATs are kinda outdating themselves because it only really looks at one area of student learning,” said Lee. “Where we know there are so many different levels of student learning . . . There are so many variables now that you can’t measure in terms of a standardized achievement test,” said Lee. “So why are we doing it becomes the question.”

Lee would support elimination of provincial achievement tests at the Grade 3 level in its standard form and a different assessment for the Grade 6 and Grade 9 levels.

“There certainly would be different measurements,” he said. “I think local school boards and jurisdictions would be the best to adapt to and share those. Instead of having them fit in a square box like a provincial achievement test.”

Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools chairwoman Adriana LaGrange said there needs to be some form of standardized testing to gauge where the students need to improve. She is on the fence about the provincial achievement tests.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate

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