So, I have kids who are three grade levels apart. What that means is that every three years they will both be writing P.A.T.s (Provincial Achievement Tests). As a former grade nine teacher I am all too familiar with these. For me as a teacher, it was always about trying to figure out from the results how I could teach my kids better. For me as a parent, it becomes something completely different. I have written before that I have been very frustrated by the Elementary School reporting system. I find it useless to me in terms of evaluating my children at least as a communication tool. I have my own observations of my kids, and I want to be able to help them achieve and learn better, but the evaluations seemed more based on "Goal Setting Booklets" that I have to fill out with my kid or whether or not I sign off on their reading than on actually evaluating what they can and cannot do. My kingdom for a Rubric or a list of acquired Curriculum Objectives! Anyhow, the idiocy of the report cards and reporting methods (all the Parent Teacher meetings are student-led and never is there an opportunity to look at their marks on things and marks seemed to be more tied to behaviour than actual cognitive measures) made me curious about how much they do know. I know that in the big scheme of things elementary grades mean nothing, but I still want to be sure they are both developing cognitively as they should be and I must admit my expectations are on the high side. So, today we investigated the website that the school provided for practicing for P.A.T.s. Oliver has done a few practice Math ones and is working on his second Reading Comprehension one and it has highlighted some gaps. I think that they 'missed' a couple units in the math curriculum because there were terms that Oliver didn't have a clue about. We made a visit to his textbook and he said they hadn't done that chapter yet which at this point of the year concerns me. They should be reviewing about now... sigh...
Anyhow, I am very happy that the school has this website set up for us to practice on. They do their tests on the iPad and can post their initials and school if they do well and they both seem to actually enjoy it. Oliver actually asked to do a few more! For me, there is a relief that they both seem to be doing okay. All of their scores on the mini-tests have ranged from 80-100% so that makes me happy. And because we can look at what they got wrong, I can cover those concepts with some individualized instruction. We are doing the English tests... that is a drawback, because I cannot understand the French well enough to help, but I will get them to do those closer to their testing. I am more concerned with evaluating what they do or do not know and the English tests will do for that purpose.
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