Starting this September, Alberta teachers will be able to decide for themselves whether or not to administer the Grade 3 SLA or Student Learning Assessment.
The announcement was made Saturday at the annual meeting of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) in Edmonton.
“Teachers will be able to use their professional judgment to decide for themselves whether keeping the SLAs will benefit the students in their classroom,” Education Minister David Eggen said in a speech to delegates at the Westin Hotel.
Eggen went on to describe the SLAs as “valuable” but “not necessarily useful in every circumstance.” He said teachers would be able to decide for themselves whether or not to administer the assessments and when to do it in the school year.
The announcement was met with a standing ovation from the 450 delegates in attendance.
The assessments have been piloted at the third grade level since 2014, when the province promised to replace provincial achievement testing in Grades 3, 6 and 9.
Teachers have raised concerns about the assessment tool including the timing of the tests in the school year and the extent to which the results would be made public. They also expressed concern about the amount of time required to administer and mark the assessments and about their authority to decide when and how to administer it.
“I’m heartened by Minister Eggen’s announcement today,” association president Mark Ramsankar said. “The announcement of teachers being able to use their professional judgment to take the SLA exams at the beginning of the year and begin programming properly for Grade 3 students.”
Only 20 per cent of Alberta’s school boards administered the assessments last year.
More than 200 resolutions are up for debate at the meeting this weekend, including motions dealing with mental health supports in schools and support for Catholic education, gay-straight alliances and budgets.
The ATA is also celebrating a milestone year with its 100th anniversary.
“Teachers are excited about the new direction as we head into the new century,” Ramsankar said.