c . 2-

Parent Guide


aJUN 21 1995


Provincial Achievement Testing




Information About the Provincial Achievement Testing Program

What are the achievement tests and who writes them?


The achievement tests are provincial tests in language arts, social studies, science and mathematics. The tests are based on provincial standards for what students are expected to know in each of these subject areas.

All Alberta students in grades 3, 6 and 9 are expected to write the provincial tests for their grade levels. A small number of students in special circumstances, who would be unable to respond at all to the test or who would be harmed by the testing may be excused by a superintendent.

Special provisions will be made for stu- dents with physical and learning disabili- ties who need assistance to write the tests.

What is the purpose of the achievement tests?

Alberta Education uses the tests to gather information about the level of achievement of students throughout Alberta. We report how well students are meeting provincial standards. School boards, superintendents, principals and teachers use test results to help them identify strengths and weak- nesses in local programs and to make improvements.

How are tests developed?

Alberta Education and classroom teachers, in cooperation with school districts, work together to develop the provincial achieve- ment tests. All questions are field tested with grades 3, 6 or 9 students before being used on provincial tests. Questions have to be clear to students, or we don’t include the questions.

What changes will be introduced in 1995?

All tests will be given annually at the end of the school year. Grade 3 students will write tests in mathematics and language arts. Grades 6 and 9 students will write tests in language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. In the past, students wrote a test in one subject each year. Subjects were rotated on a four-year basis.

Another important change is that teachers may mark the tests locally and use the results as part of students’ final grades. Teachers may use the provincial tests in place of similar classroom, school or district year-end tests. This will reduce duplication of effort and costs.



i In June, your son or daughter in Grade 9 will write provincial achievement

tests in math, science, social studies and language arts. Students in grades 3 and I 6 will also write achievement tests.

This year, the testing program has expanded to provide better information about how well students are meeting provincial standards. Tests will be given

1 annually.

The changes being introduced in 1995 are described below in the answers to parents' questions.


How long will these tests take to write?

The Grade 3 language arts test has two parts: reading and writing. Each takes one hour. The multiple-choice test for math- ematics will also take about one hour. At grades 6 and 9, the written section of the language arts test will take about two hours, and the reading section one and one-half hours. Multiple-choice tests in each of the other three subject areas will also take about one and one-half hours.

Suitable breaks will be provided for students. For example, the Grade 3 math- ematics test is divided into two parts with a break in the middle. Also, tests can be written over several days so that only one test would be written in a day.

evaluated only by the classroom teacher.

A single test cannot reveal as much about a student’s development and growth as can evaluation by the classroom teacher over the course of a school year.

How are the tests marked?

Local marking is done by classroom teachers who are provided with scoring guides.

Provincial marking is done by selected classroom teachers who meet to mark the written part of the language arts test. Alberta Education staff provide training to the teachers and carry out regular reliabil- ity checks during marking. Multiple-choice questions are machine-scored.


When will the tests be Will these tests affect my

written? child's final grades?

Students will do the written part of the language arts tests in late May or early June and the rest of the tests in the last half of June.

Do the provincial achievement tests test everything?

No. Paper-and-pencil tests cannot easily measure such things as laboratory skills, creative thinking or oral language expres- sion. Some student strengths can be

The teacher is in charge of classroom assessment. Each individual teacher will decide whether to mark the test and use the results in arriving at a final grade for your child.

The teacher may use the marks for the whole test or part of the test along with other assessment information. If teachers use the marks from the entire test, the results will reflect the provincial standard best.


...continued on page 8

Provincial Standards and Sample Questions

The following information briefly lists some of the knowledge and skills that students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of Grade 9 . You can get a more complete description through discussion of your child’s educational program with his/her teacher.

Below are some sample questions. The questions give you a first hand look at what achievement tests are all about. The answers to the questions are on page 1.

Grade 9

Mathematics Standards

Students are expected to be able to:

use the rational number system (numbers that can be written as fractions) to solve problems

perform calculations involving rational numbers in both their fractional and decimal forms, using estimators, calculators and computers when appropriate

describe, illustrate, interpret and analyze data, using both examples from other school subjects and everyday life

use measurements and geometry reasoning to solve problems in a variety of contexts

use algebra and variables to solve problems

Grade 9

Mathematics Sample Questions

Use the following information to answer question 1.

Jack plays hockey for the local hockey team. He averages

six shots on goal per game. One shot of every five results

in a goal.

1. If Jack were to score 360 goals in his career, how many games would he play?

The number of games would be .

Use the following information to answer question 2.

I I ! I I I I I I

^.’-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 1 2 3

When problems involving inequalities are solved, the solution often contains more than one number. To show these numbers, a graph is made.

2. The above is a graph of:

a. -4< x <3, where x is an integer

b. x>-5, where x is an integer

c. a;<-4, where x is a rational number

d. x>-i, where x is a rational number

Use the following information to answer question 3.

A rope that just reaches from the top to the bottom of a well can be wrapped around a cylindrical drum 10 times.

3. How many metres deep is the well if the drum has a diameter of 30 cm?

a. 7.10

b. 9.42

c. 30.0

d. 94.2

4. A bag contains 400 marbles, some red, some white and some blue. A random sample contains 8 red marbles,

6 white marbles and 2 blue marbles. How many of the 400 marbles would be expected to be white?

The number of white marbles expected would be


Grade 9

Language Arts Standards

Students are expected to be able to:

use experiences, knowledge of language and context clues to make meaning from text

identify, evaluate, and synthesize information from a variety of sources to make informed choices, form opinions and answer questions

describe, interpret and comment on the actions, attitudes, and motives of main characters in grade 9 level literature

explain how literary elements such as plot, setting and characterization are interrelated. Identify the techniques used by authors to achieve a desired purpose

communicate information and ideas effectively in a variety of contexts and for a variety of purposes and audiences

Grade 9 Language Arts Sample Questions

Part A: Writing

Students are provided with a poem (lyrics to a song) as a prompt for their writing. Students choose the format (story, letter, or diary/journal entries) that will allow them to do their best writing. Students have 2 hours to complete their writing.

Students’ writing is evaluated on what they say and how well they say it. The scoring categories are content, organization, sentence structure, vocabulary and conventions (spelling, grammar and punctuation). Content and organization are weighted to be worth twice as much as each of the other categories in arriving at an overall score for students’ writing.

Part B: Reading

Read the excerpt from “The Portable Phonograph” and answer questions 1 to 5.

The red sunset, with narrow black cloud strips like threads across it, lay on the curved horizon of the prairie. The air was still and cold, and in it settled the mute darkness and greater cold of the night.

5 High in the air there was wind, for through the veil of the dusk the clouds could be seen gliding rapidly south and changing shapes. A queer sensation of torment, of two-sided, unpredictable nature, arose from the stillness of the earth air beneath the 10 violence of the upper air. Out of the sunset, through the dead, matted grass and isolated weed stalks of the prairie, crept the narrow and deeply rutted remains of a road. In the road, in places, there were crusts of shallow, brittle ice. There were little islands

15 of an old oiled pavement in the road too, but most of it was mud, now frozen rigid. The frozen mud still bore the toothed impress of great tanks, and a wanderer on the neighboring undulations might have stumbled, in this light, into large, partially

20 filled-in and weed-grown cavities, their banks

channeled and beginning to spread into badlands. These pits were such as might have been made by falling meteors, but they were not. They were the scars of gigantic bombs, their rawness already made

25 a little natural by rain, seed, and time. Along the road there were rakish remnants of fence. There was also, just visible, one portion of tangled and multiple barbed wire still erect, behind which was a shelving ditch with small caves, now very quiet and

30 empty, at intervals in its back wall. Otherwise there was no structure or remnant of a structure visible over the dome of the darkening earth, but only, in sheltered hollows, the darker shadows of young trees trying again.

Walter Van Tillburg Clark

1. As this story begins, the author seems to be creating a

certain mood through:

a. plot

b. interesting dialogue

c. setting

d. figurative language

2. The author implies that, prior to the story, there was a:

a. drought

b. natural disaster

c. war

d. meteor shower

3. The line(s) that indicate(s) that time has passed is:

a. “the dead, matted grass” (line 11)

b. “the narrow and deeply rutted remains of a road”

(lines 12-13)

c. “there were rakish remnants of fence” (line 26)

d. “the darker shadows of young trees trying again”

(lines 33-34)

4. The word “scars” in line 24 refers to:

a. visible lines created by old injuries

b. pits created by explosions

c. craters made by meteors

d. ridges left by passing tanks

5. The type of writing used by this author is:

a. biographical

b. narrative

c. expository

d. descriptive

Use the following information to answer question 3.

Science Standards

Tom is checking the circuit diagram for the interior light in

Students are expected to be able to: his car.

show how science and technology are related

describe the compressibility of liquids and gases

identify indicators of water quality

construct and interpret circuit diagrams

test for the presence of acids and bases in household products

describe and interpret surface features of the earth, and interpret evidence of long-term change

measure physical characteristics of materials, forces and movement

identify and interpret changes in materials resulting from simple chemical and physical changes

describe characteristics of living things and relate these to their environment

Grade 9

Science Sample Questions

Use the following information to answer question 1.

The oil in the heavy oil fields near Cold Lake is often too thick to pump from underground. Workers inject superheated steam into the formations so the oil can be pumped out.

1 . This procedure works because the viscosity of liquids:

a. decreases with an increase in water content

b. increases with an increase in water content

c. increases with an increase in temperature

d. decreases with an increase in temperature


y\J Lamp 4= Battery q Switch


3. If the switch is moved from contact point A to contact point B, the bulb will:

a. dim b. brighten

c. burn out d. not change

Use the following information to answer question 4.





Red Litmus




Blue Litmus








Congo Red




4. A scientist tested an unknown household cleaner. Colourless phenolphthalein did not change colour when added to a sample of the cleaner. The scientist could infer that the unknown household cleaner was:

a. a base

b. an acid

c. a base or neutral

d. an acid or neutral

Use the following information to answer question 2.

Ms. Beetle's Grade 9 class was concerned about the quality of water in Poplar River. They carried out a water quality study by counting the freshwater invertebrates found in equal samples of water taken from five different locations along the Poplar River. The results are shown below.

Number of Freshwater Invertebrates











of STP*

of STP*

of STP*

of STP*

of STP*

Mayfly Larvae












Caddisfly Larvae


















* STP - Sewage Treatment Plant

2. From the data, the best inference is that:

a. all invertebrates are affected by the Sewage Treatment Plant

b. fishing would be better upstream from the Sewage Treatment Plant

c. only worms and leeches are unaffected by the Sewage Treatment Plant

d. the entire invertebrate population is unaffected by the Sewage Treatment Plant

Grade 9 Social Studies Standards

Students are expected to be able to:

describe the major types of economies and how each meets the needs of people

explain how economic growth and technological change affect quality of life

read and interpret maps to uncover relationships between geography and industrialization in the United States, in the former Soviet Union and in Canada

identify and evaluate alternative answers, conclusions, solutions or decisions concerning issues of economic growth in the United States, in the former Soviet Union and in Canada

support a position using persuasive arguments on quality of life in a market, centrally planned or mixed economy

communicate effectively with others in formal situations such as interviews and panel discussions on different perspectives of economic growth

Grade 9

Social Studies Sample Questions

Use the following information to answer question 1.


Henry Ford was determined to build a car that could be purchased by the average consumer. His Model T Ford was built by organizing production into an assembly line where each worker has a specific job to do. Each car could be assembled in 14 hours. A car sold for $950 in 1909 and Ford sold over 1 1,000 cars in the first year of production.

In 1913, a moving assembly line produced an even less expensive car in only one hour. This was achieved by dramatically simplifying the job each worker had to do.

1. This information supports the conclusion that there is a direct realtionship between:

a. Ford’s methods of production and the quality of the production

b. Ford’s ingenuity and his control of automotive manufacturing

c. the use of mass production techniques and the prices of goods

d. the use of assembly line methods and the reliability of the product

2. To find out how an energy shortage would affect the quality

of life of Canadians, the most useful research question

would be:

a. Can the quality of Alberta petroleum products meet world market standards?

b. Can a practical electrical car be designed to replace gasoline-powered automobiles?

c. To what extent do jobs and economic growth depend upon an adequate supply of energy?

d. To what extent are oil supplies threatened by political unrest in the world?

3. One characteristic of a model market economy is that:

a. property is privately owned

b. government regulates competition

c. businesses are guaranteed a profit

d. society's production is shared equally

Use the political cartoon below to answer question 4.

4. The main point of the cartoon is that:

a. Yeltsin is determined to implement economic reform

b. Gorbachev changed the direction of economic reform

c. creating a new economic system in Russia has been difficult

d. changing the Russian leadership has improved the economy

Mathematics Answers

Language Arts Answers

Science Answers

Social Studies Answers

1. 300

1. C

1. D

1. C

2. D

2. C

2. A

2. C

3. B

3. D

3. A

3. A

4. 150

4. B

4. D


5. D

What use is made of the results?


After each student’s work is marked,

Alberta Education analyzes the results and prepares school, district and provincial reports. These reports show how well students did in relation to provincial standards. School staff, in consultation with their school councils, look at the school report to see where their students did well and where learning could be improved. The principal, teachers, parents and the community use these results and other local information to improve learning opportunities for their students.

Similarly, the school board and the superin- tendent look at the district report to see how district-wide programs can be im- proved for students.

Alberta Education looks at the provincial report for ways to improve provincial curricula, programs and policies. In this way, everyone works together to help all students learn to their potential.

Can I find out how my child did on the achievement tests?

Yes. We prepare a chart or profile showing your child’s performance in relation to provincial standards on each test. We will

send the profile to the school that your child will be attending in September. If we do not know which school, we will send the profile to the school where your child wrote the achievement tests.

Where can I get more information about the Achievement Testing Program?

Bulletins describing the coming year’s achievement tests are sent to schools in the fall. These bulletins show the types of questions students will be asked and may be used to prepare students for the provin- cial tests. A general information bulletin on the administration of the program is sent to schools too. You can request copies of these bulletins from the school or from Alberta Education.

More questions?

If you have additional questions or com- ments about achievement testing, please speak with your child’s teacher or school principal, or contact:

Achievement Testing Team Student Evaluation Branch Alberta Education (403) 427-0010

To be connected toll-free in Alberta, dial 310-0000.


Students Jr First!

Student Evaluation