By J.W. Schnarr
Horizon School Division has posted strong numbers when it comes to provincial achievement and diploma exams.
During their regular meeting on Oct. 21, Erin Hurkett, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction, updated the HSD board of trustees on the results of the Provincial Achievement Tests (PAT) for Grade 6 and Grade 9 students and for the Grade 12 diploma exams.
The numbers for acceptable standards were nearly universally higher than provincial standards, while the number of “Standard of Excellence” scores were lower, but still comparable to the provincial standards.
“Acceptable standard” is an achievement set by Alberta Education, and, in this case, is the same as a passing grade on the exam.
These marks represent those of all students in their respective grades – even those who did not write the test for any reason. Anyone who did not write the exam was counted as having not met the acceptable standard.
The exams also noted a “standard of excellence” achieved by students who recorded a grade of 80 per cent or more on their exams.
The results showed the percentage of division students were higher than the provincial average in nearly all cases.
But the number of students achieving a standard of excellence was consistently below the provincial average except in Grade 9 math. At the Grade 12 level, all but four diploma exams (Social 30, Biology 30, Physics 30, and Chemistry 30) achieved a standard of excellence that met or exceeded the percentages attained by the province. HSD diploma writers earned an average of 6.6 per cent higher than the average acceptable standard for the province as a whole. They also met or exceeded the provincial average in all instances but one (Physics 30).
HSD’s test numbers come in spite of the fact Grade 6 level schooling has one of the highest rates of English Language Learners in the province at the Grade 6 level.
“We have quite a significant ELL population when compared to the province,” she said.
The province has identified 40.1 per cent of HSD students as ELL compared to 15.5 provincially, while at the Grade 9 level, 14 per cent of students have been identified ELL compared to 9.2 per cent provincially.
“The (Grade 9 levels) are more based on funding and English language proficiency,” she said.
Hurkett said funding comes in blocks of five years, beginning in Grade 1, and by Grade 9, many of those students are proficient in English to the point their ELL designation no longer applies. This would explain the much larger ELL designation at the Grade 6 level.