Date: 13-03-08 16:29
PAT stands for Progressive Achievement Test and as the name suggests, PATs are tests of achievement to see what level of knowledge or skill the child has reached. They are administered usually from Yr 4, though sometimes a school will start at Yr 3. Essentially, they are a ranking tool. Data generated gives teachers information about a child's achievement level in relation to others the same age and scores can be reported as stanines, percentiles or age (as in, for example, a reading age of 15+).
One of the major problems with PATs is that there is a ceiling - if a child achieves in Stanine 9, does that mean they could not have achieved higher if given a harder test? As Stanine 9 is perceived as excellent achievement, it is rare for a school to offer the child the chance to sit the next level test - they are achieving well, so why worry about it? My dd scored a stanine 9 for reading in Yr 4 and at my insistence (I am a 'pushy parent' who happens to be a teacher) was then tested with the Yr 6 reading comp test, which she also scored in Stanine 9 for. Her reading age was 15+ in Yr 4. What this all meant was that she needed a significantly different reading programme from the other Yr 4s and most of the Yrs 6s.
As a tool for identifying gifted children, it is a poor diagnostician. The asTTLe tests, developed by Prof John Hattie at Auckland Uni, are better in that they report specific skill strengths and weaknesses. However, the most effective way to identify giftedness is a multi-dimensional approach, which looks at achievement tests, behavioural characteristics, parent and teacher comments, work samples, and psychometric tests if available. Looking at all the data together provides a much better chance of correctly identifying giftedness.
Your child's results are certainly excellent and it would be worth profiling him as above for inclusion in the school's gifted ed provisions, if any exist.