Alberta students overall have shown some improvement according to the results from the provincial achievement tests (PAT) and Grade 12 diploma exams as announced by Education Alberta.
The results from the 2014-15 PATs provide a snapshot of how Grade 6 and 9 students across the province demonstrated their knowledge in the core subjects. Overall, the number of students reaching the excellence standard improved in most subjects, while the number achieving the acceptable standard improved or remained basically unchanged from the year before.
Locally, the St. Thomas Aquinas Roman (STAR) Catholic Schools division, which includes Ponoka’s St. Augustine Catholic School, saw its students exceed the provincial standards in several categories.
The results from the Wolf Creek School Division, according to superintendent Larry Jacobs, were still being looked at by himself and his staff, so he was unable to provide any comments regarding what the results mean until he can disseminate them.
For the STAR division, the biggest success was seen in Math and English in both the PATs and the Grade 12 diplomas.
Overall, students across the division exceeded the acceptable standard on the PATs by seven percent and the excellence standard by three percent, while the diploma exam results improved by 1.5 percent in the excellence category from last year.
When broken down into grades and subjects, the results for the division are more impressive and show how the division’s efforts in the classroom are impacting student learning.
In Grade 6, the students in exceeded the provincial standard of excellence in both the Science and English Language Arts PATs as well as exceeding the provincial acceptable standard on all four PAT exams, while the Grade 9 students also demonstrated some exceptional results, as the division exceeded both the provincial acceptable and excellence PAT standards in Math, Science and Social Studies.
According to STAR Catholic Schools, the 2014-15 results in all four of the PAT subject areas for Grades 6 plus in Grade 9 Science, Math and Social Studies were some of the best the division has had in the last five years.
In Grade 12 diploma exam results, students of the division exceeded excellence standard in four subjects – Biology 30-1, Chemistry 30-1, Science 30 and Social Studies 30-1 – and students exceeded the provincial acceptable standard in English 30-2, Science 30 and Social Studies 30-1.
“We’re excited by the results we’re seeing this year,” stated Kevin Booth, assistant superintendent with STAR Catholic Schools in a press release.
“The achievement of our students is a tribute to their dedication and commitment, but it also speaks to our teachers and their desire to help students achieve their personal best, as well as the support we receive from parents and guardians at home. This is a team effort and we’re proud to share that success.”
Booth added the division will be looking further into the results of the Grade 9 English Language Arts PAT, the Physics 30 diploma exam and some other areas where there are potential to improve student outcomes.
In conjunction with the Oct. 8 release of the results , Alberta’s Education minister David Eggen met with members of the Alberta School Boards Association, the Alberta Teachers Association, the College of Alberta School Superintendents and the Alberta School Councils Association to talk about coordinating efforts to improve student learning.
“Education in Alberta is a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, school boards and administrators. During (our) discussion, we shared ideas and plans for ensuring that high-quality education is provided for all students in the province,” Eggen said.
Part of the discussion included student performance in elementary level Math, a subject that has been identified over the last few years as one that has seen Alberta students fall behind other areas of the county. To help with that, Eggen announced his department is allocating another $1 million in funding to support elementary Math instruction.
“Superintendents and other system leaders are supporting principals and teachers to ensure continuous improvement of practices in the classrooms. We will continue working with the ministry to refine math education. (This) meeting was a good step to identifying ways we can move forward together,” added John Waterhouse, president of the College of Alberta School Superintendents.