PAT testing

Choosing the appropriate test

Modified on: Tue, 20 Jun, 2017 at 2:29 PM

The PATs/STAR/STwE are assessments for position and progress in the curriculum. Each test has been designed carefully to align with a particular area of the curriculum and the progressions of tests match expected, average progress through the curriculum. What happens when a child makes less or more than average progress through the curriculum?

You will get the most relevant and accurate curriculum information of what a student knows and doesn't know, when you choose a test that matches the student's ability. If they are at least a curriculum level above or below where they should be, you need to consider differentiating the test for them.

Some criteria to consider are:

  • Any student who is well below or well above needs to sit a different test. Schools should choose the year level test that matches the students position in the curriculum (see below).
  • To get the richest picture of a child's position or progress in the curriculum, the student should be able to get about 50% of the questions correct - this shows the test matches the students' ability
  • You do not need to 'over-differentiate' as any one test has at least two years of difficulty built into the questions (i.e. a whole curriculum level) so most students should be fine with the recommended year level test

Tests that are too easy or too difficult will not provide precise achievement measures. Instead, there will be ceiling effects, where many students achieve perfect or near perfect scores, and floor effects, where students answer very few questions (if any) correctly.

Before using a test it is important to check that its level of content is suitable for the students to be assessed. Making this choice does not change the statistics you need for reporting. It doesn't matter what test a student sits as their results all end up on the same scale.

Within the marking service the student's data will still be collated with their own year level, however the individual and item report will now provide rich, relevant diagnostic data showing you what they can do as well as what they can't do.

You will notice that in the Maths Recommended Year Level Table that most tests have been recommended for 2 or 3 year levels, and that only one is in bold type. As noted in the table, it is because it is the year level that the test was originally designed for in line with expected curriculum progress.


For information on how to create a differentiated assessment and adding students to it, please click here: Step-by-step guide to differentiating assessments