Thursday, June 20, 2013

"As parents, you have the right to withdraw your child from participating in the PATs." Alberta Education Minister

Alberta's Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) are optional.

In a letter to a parent, Alberta's Education Minister Jeff Johnson writes:
As parents, you have the right to withdraw your child from participating in the PATs. Please note that your child will be marked as absent on the school and school authority reports for the days the tests are administered.
Jeff Johnson's message has at least two important implications:

1. Provincial Achievement Tests are optional. Full Stop. Parents have the final say about whether their children write PATs. Parents need only write a letter to the principal stating that their child won't write the test. The letter doesn't require a reason. Even if the school uses the PAT as a final exam (which they shouldn't), the PATs are still optional.

2. Schools might (wrongfully) try and deny parents their right to opt out of PATs. I know parents who have told the school that their child will not write the PATs, and the school attempted to deny them this right. I wrote a post here that explains all this, but essentially the problem is Full-Cohort Reporting -- here's what's going on:

Whether a child writes the test or not, their score affects the school's performance report. While it's true that there should be no punishment for a child and their family who opts out of testing, the school is punished by the Alberta Government who assigns the school a zero. Imagine how few zeroes would be required to drag a school's average down, making them look far worse than they really are...

No one can deny a parent's right to opt their children out of Provincial Achievement Tests.

And now you know -- and knowing is half the battle.

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