Thursday, 12 Nov 2020

At this point in the school year, you have probably started to run your PAT assessment reports and are beginning to gain valuable insights into your students’ learning progress.

Did you know you can compare your results to a set of valid and reliable year-level achievement data – or norm samples? This will allow you to gauge how well your students are performing compared with a national average and to make more solid inferences about their learning.

Norm samples for PAT assessments are made up of students from each year level, selected from government, independent and Catholic schools, from all states and territories and in both rural and urban areas. Norm samples are considered to be representative of the PAT achievement of Australian students across the different year levels.

For some PAT assessments, such as PAT Early Years, ‘reference groups’ are available for comparison purposes. Reference groups are provided where there may not be enough data to produce adequately weighted norm samples. Reference groups are self-selected and are not considered nationally representative of student achievement.

Reference data for each learning area are collected at specific times of year, typically towards the end of the school year. When making comparisons between your students’ results and the reference data, pay attention to the time of year and keep this in mind.

Measuring learning growth

In online PAT reports, comparisons between your students’ results and the reference data are expressed as ranking scores – percentiles and stanines. Percentiles and stanines can be used to understand a student’s achievement relative to their cohort, but they cannot be used to compare the achievement of students in different year levels, or to monitor growth over time.

For example, a student who is continually improving may rank at stanine 6 every year, while their PAT scale scores increase. Only PAT scale scores within a learning area should be used to measure growth.

In this earlier story on PAT Insights, which includes a short video explainer on understanding PAT reports, we delve deeper into ways to organise your assessment data, including by percentile and stanine. In this short video case study, teachers from Our Lady of the Visitation School in South Australia talk about mapping the learning journey using data.

More resources – videos, factsheets and webinars – can be found within your online school account.