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Post date: Tuesday, 18 November 2014

New, improved ways to use the PATs

When I was a principal I confess we only ever assessed using the recommended test for each year group and we measured progress by the stanine. We had no idea the tests were designed to give teachers rich, descriptive information about the level of the curriculum each student is working in, and, what their next steps should be. The other thing we didn’t know was that the main consideration when selecting a test is to ensure the level of difficulty is appropriate to the students concerned.  What?    You can choose?   Yes you can!

Believe me, MOST students will fit the recommended year group test  - it makes sense because the tests are aligned with the curriculum, AND the trial data was gathered from students around that year group - that’s logical. But, tests that are too easy or too difficult will not provide precise achievement measures. It is important to check that the content is suitable for the students concerned.


Let’s use this Demo individual report and make some notes about  Ben

  • You can see that the question difficulty ranges widely, based on their position on the page measured by the scale of difficulty. Most are well beyond Ben’s understanding or skill.

  • Ben achieved a scale score of 34 plus or minus 3.7. When I look at the scale descriptions at the back of the Manual, p.79, I can see he is working at about Level 2 of the curriculum.

  • Ben completed Test 3, recommended for Year 6, where students are expected to be at approximately Level 3, and have scale scores in the late 40s. The specific subject material in the test is aligned with curriculum Level 3  (see Pg 6 in the Manual).

  • Test 3 is too hard for Ben and not relevant to the  teaching and learning he’s been involved in.

  • With the  report above, all you find out is what Ben doesn’t know and nothing about what he does know. The teacher will have nothing on which to scaffold Ben’s next learning step.

  • In the NZCERMarking online analysis, the Individual report allows the teacher to click on each question and see how Ben and the whole class actually answered, which will give clues to his comprehension thinking.

The analysis above could also apply if a student sat a test that was too easy - you can’t see what their next steps are.

Sitting a different test will not change their scale score - remember the scale indicates their curriculum level of difficulty so that can’t  suddenly alter.  As long as you use the correct reference year for them, the Term 1 stanines will be accurate.

This is a win-win for the student and the teacher.

For any further advice please contact: Cathie Johnson  Education Adviser  04 802 1386


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