ACER’s transformational assessment tools honoured

Thursday, 31 Mar 2022

ACER’s next-generation Progressive Achievement (PAT) resources have been announced as finalists in the 2022 International e-Assessment Awards. 

The new PAT Adaptive assessments – and the PAT Data Explorer, the reporting tool developed alongside them – are one of four finalists in the ‘Best Transformational Project’ category of the awards. This award recognises projects where technology has positively and genuinely transformed assessment practices. 

More than half of all Australian schools use PAT to target teaching and improve learning outcomes. PAT Adaptive creates personalised test pathways determined by student responses, giving a more precise picture of student achievement and even greater diagnostic power.

PAT provides a coherent learning ‘system’ based on a set of best practice design principles. ACER Chief Executive Professor Geoff Masters AO discussed these principles in Teacher this month. 

PAT design principles: 

  1. Based on contemporary understandings of learning
  2. Developed with a clear purpose
  3. Aligned with empirically constructed learning progressions
  4. Adapts to where students are in their learning
  5. Delivers more informative reports
  6. Accompanied by teaching advice and resources
  7. Supports professional learning 

‘Human learning is an ongoing and potentially lifelong process through which individuals develop increasingly deep knowledge and understandings; growing levels of skill in applying knowledge; and evolving personal attributes and values,’ Professor Masters writes. 

‘The challenge in teaching is to understand and connect with learners’ current levels of attainment and readiness, and to identify appropriate next steps in learning.’  

To do this, Professor Masters says, PAT uses a map of long-term development in an area of learning known as a ‘learning progression’. PAT assessments provide scale scores that indicate the levels on the learning progression that students demonstrate, along with descriptions of the kinds of knowledge and skills they demonstrate, and information about their long-term (multi-year) progress. To maximise information about individual learners, teachers can assign students assessments at different levels of challenge or opt for a computer adaptive assessment that offers personalised test pathways based on student responses. 

Professor Masters says a key use of PAT is to identify best next steps for teaching and learning. Concepts and skills assessed by PAT are identified for teachers, together with common student errors and misconceptions. To help ensure every student is presented with learning material at an appropriate level of challenge and so maximise the likelihood of successful further learning, the PAT Teaching Resources Centre provides suggestions for activities appropriate to individuals’ assessed levels of attainment and learning needs.  

Professor Masters notes ‘The effective use of PAT requires high-level skills in using assessment information to: diagnose and understand individuals’ learning; design targeted teaching that responds to student needs (including errors and misconceptions) and that challenges further learning; monitor the progress students make over time; and evaluate the success of teaching efforts.’ The PAT Professional Learning Series assists teachers in their development and application of these ‘sophisticated pedagogical skills’. 

The e-Assessment Awards are organised by the e-Assessment Association, an international not-for-profit membership organisation representing all industry sectors with an interest in e-Assessment. The winners of the 2022 e-Assessment Awards will be announced on 21 June. 

Find out more:
Read ‘PAT: Leading Best Practice‘, by Professor Geoff Masters AO, in Teacher

Visit the e-Assessment Awards website.