Alberta to drop provincial achievement tests

The province is eliminating provincial achievement tests (PATs) for students in Grades 3, 6 and 9.

Province replacing PATs with more 'student-friendly' assessments for Grades 3, 6 and 9

Alberta will eliminate Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) for students in Grades 3, 6 and 9.      

Education Minister Jeff Johnson made the announcement in a statement released Thursday.      

The end-of-term exams will be replaced by more "student-friendly" literacy and numeracy assessments at the beginning of school years, Johnson said.

"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, the province said.

Alberta is one of the few provinces that have standardized achievement tests for younger children.

Many parents and teachers had been calling for their elimination.      

Axing the PATs was also an election promise made by Premier Alison Redford.

"This is very good news for Alberta students and parents," said Carol Henderson, president of the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

"The current testing program provided little value for learning and did not fit with the vision of Inspiring Education," she added, referring to a public consultation the province hosted around education.

The new tests will be phased in over a few years, starting in September 2014 with Grade 3. Full implementation for Grade 3 is expected by the following year.

The new testing for Grades 6 and 9 are will start to be phased in in 2015 and 2016, respectively.