Provincial assessment markers

Provincial assessments are scored and marked shortly after each exam administration date.

Writing assignments and extended-response assignments are marked by teachers. These teachers are nominated by their school authority superintendent and selected by government provincial assessment staff. Teachers can participate in provincial assessment marking for both Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs) and Diploma Exams.

Eligibility

Diploma exams

To qualify to mark diploma exams, a teacher must:

  • be teaching the course in the current school year
  • hold an Alberta Permanent Professional Teaching Certificate (or equivalent certification for NWT and Nunavut teachers)
  • be able to mark on all scheduled days.

Two or more years experience teaching the course is an asset.

PATs

To qualify to mark provincial achievement tests a teacher must:

  • have taught the course within the past three years
  • have a valid Alberta Permanent Professional Teaching Certificate (or the equivalent certification for NWT and Nunavut teachers)
  • be employed by a school authority
  • be able to mark on all scheduled days.

How to participate

Diploma exams

Government Provincial Assessment staff sends each school authority a marking nomination package in September (for January and April marking sessions) and again in February (for June, August and November marking sessions) requesting names of qualified teachers.

Draft dates for marking the exams are in the General Information Bulletin (PDF, 4.4 MB) and are also included in this package.

PATs

Government Provincial Assessment staff sends each school authority a marking nomination package in February (for July marking sessions) requesting names of qualified teachers.

Draft dates for scoring the tests are included in this package.

Selection criteria

The following criteria are used to select markers:

Diploma exams

  • experience as a marker (including a balance of first-time and experienced markers)
  • regional representation
  • proportional representation based on student population

PATs

  • experience as a marker (including a balance of first-time and experienced markers)
  • regional representation (by zone, school authority, and school)

After markers are selected

Government provincial assessment staff select qualified teachers who have been approved by their superintendent. These selected teachers are contacted to confirm their participation as well as the dates and times for marking.

Selected markers are asked to confirm their participation, as per the instructions on the marker invitation form. Only teachers who have been selected to mark are contacted.

Given the nature of the work, all teachers who participate in marking must sign a confidentiality agreement.

Compensation

Markers will be reimbursed for travel, accommodation, and subsistence expenses in accordance with Provincial Assessment’s Remuneration Policy. Honorarium will also be paid.

Observers

Provincial Assessment may accommodate a limited number of requests for observers to our marking procedures. This would enable those teachers not yet qualified to mark to establish a network of experienced contacts and create an awareness of Provincial Assessment’s marking procedures. Acceptance is on a “first-come-first-serve” basis under the following conditions:

  • Names are provided with the approval of the superintendent.
  • The school authority/school/teacher is responsible for all costs of substitute, travel, and subsistence.

Provincial assessment development

A key element of Alberta’s provincial assessments is the involvement of teachers in item writing and question development, examination review, test validation, French translation validation, and standards setting. Consequently, each year, government provincial assessment staff invites superintendents to nominate teachers who have demonstrated strong leadership and subject matter expertise to participate in one or more working groups for Provincial Achievement Tests (PATs), Diploma Exams, and Student Learning Assessments (SLAs).

Participation in working groups provides teachers with an excellent professional learning opportunity. Working group members may be out of the classroom for 2 to 6 school days during the year. However, some working groups also meet on non-instructional days (weekends and/or breaks).

Given the nature of the work, all teachers who participate must sign a confidentiality agreement.

Working groups are held throughout the school year and are established according to the availability of resources and regional representation (i.e., where possible we want to represent all types of school authorities). Only teachers who are selected for participation will be contacted and we thank everyone for their interest.

A nomination does not guarantee that a teacher will be selected for a working group.

Eligibility

Teachers must be nominated by their superintendents to be eligible for participation.

How to participate

Contact your principal and let them know that you would like to participate in exam development activities. Each fall, government sends a letter to superintendents requesting nominees for working groups.

Nominations for working groups and nominations for marking are done separately.

Remuneration

Working-group members will be reimbursed for travel, accommodation, and subsistence expenses in accordance with Provincial Assessment’s Remuneration Policy. If applicable, honorarium will also be paid.

Field testing

For teachers and students

Field tests provide students and teachers with good examples of the style and content of questions that may appear on provincial assessments. Teachers receive each student’s score promptly, gaining useful, immediate information about their students’ levels of expertise and knowledge.

Field testing makes sure that questions on diploma examinations, PATs, and SLAs have undergone a rigorous process of development, improvement, and validation.

Purpose of field testing

Field testing is an essential stage in the development of fair, valid, and reliable provincial examinations. Field testing is a process of “testing a test” and “testing questions” before they become part of a provincial assessment.

Potential PAT, SLA, and diploma examination questions are administered to students throughout the province to determine their difficulty level and appropriateness. Ideally, each field test requires a large student sample to provide the examination developers with reliable information (statistical data and written validation comments from teachers and students).

Using field test data

The data received from field tests shows the reliability of each question. Questions that work very well in terms of fairness, validity and appropriateness to course content are used on future assessments.

Other questions or sets of questions may not perform as well as we require. These questions are subject to revision and review, and may be retested in a second or third field test with the aim of generating questions that meet our standards.

Written comments of students and teachers also provide valuable advice about the appropriateness of the questions, adequacy of writing time limits, test length, text readability, artwork/graphics clarity and suitability, and question difficulty.

Registering for a field test

Information including significant dates, registration, rules and procedures is available in the 2019-2020 Field Testing Program Guide (PDF, 1.7 MB).

The security of field test items remains vital to the administration of diploma exams and PATs. Participating teachers must commit to maintaining the security of field-test questions. Only teachers whose students are writing a particular field test may examine its contents.

In-services and presentations

The Provincial Assessment Sector offers a variety of professional learning opportunities for teachers through the Alberta Regional Professional Development Consortia. The list of available sessions is updated every fall.