Implementing CAT4 Tests Successfully in Schools

Nothing strikes more terror into the hearts of School Leaders than when asked,”How well are your sta versed on CAT4?”
Or even worse… “How well are you versed on your current CAT4 data?”

For several years now, CAT4 tests have become a bit of a headache in schools – How useful are they? Why do we do them? Do we have to do them?

The good news is that there are independent consultants across Saudi, Bahrain and the UAE, ready and waiting to support schools in what seems like the modern-day educational mineeld.

For those of you lucky enough to attend the Middle East Assessment Conference (MEAC) hosted by GL Education on 28th February 2018 in Dubai World Trade Centre you will be aware of the many dierent tests and procedures that schools now must adhere to. Having spoken to several people there that day, it was made very evident that this is causing stress to many educationalists. But it doesn’t need to! CAT is an anagram for “Cognitive Ability Test”. The “4” is because it is the 4th version! It can’t be stressed enough that one cannot study for this test. There are no practice papers and tutoring will be pointless. The test measures a student’s POTENTIAL.

Think of it as more of a “What if….” questionnaire than a test. The test is broken into 4 batteries (areas) and enables school sta to see which way certain children learn, or how they can adjust their teaching styles to boost this potential.

The 4 batteries are:
• Verbal Reasoning: Thinking with words
• Non-Verbal Reasoning: Thinking with shapes and patterns
• Quantitative Reasoning: Thinking with numbers
• Spatial Reasoning: Thinking with visual images

The best teachers adapt to the needs of their students.

Consider the following scenario:
I have a pupil in my class, Jasveet, who often comes to my lessons unprepared. He never does his homework, pays little attention during explanations and demonstrates very low engagement when it comes to activities.

His attainment is average, but I believe he has more to give. I might conclude that Jasveet simply needs a bit of a push; a more structured and disciplined environment that forces him to put more eort in. Perhaps he wasn’t given this at
home? But I’d be on the wrong track…

In reality, Jasveet has an extreme spatial bias. He is in the top %2 of the UAE. The curriculum and my teaching approach are simply not utilising his skills, causing him to become frustrated and disengaged. To ensure he reaches his potential I would need to tailor my teaching approach to this needs. Without insight into his reasoning ability, I would not be able to do this.

This example demonstrates how essential assessments like CAT4 can be in providing the missing piece of the puzzle. Recent school inspections across the UAE show that there is now a huge focus on CAT4 data and how schools are interpreting it. Ask yourself these questions:

“How condent are you that if stopped and asked, ALL sta members in your school would know the reasoning behind the CAT4 tests and pinpoint specic strategies that are eective for certain groups of students? Does this include the Teaching Assistants? What strategies do they have to employ when working with children of high Spatial Reasoning but very low Verbal? If individual children are pinpointed, could their key adults tell us what their most recent CAT4 report stated?”

If you answered “No” to any of the above scenarios, then you need to do something about it fast.

School leaders and teachers barely have the time nowadays to have a hot drink during the day, never mind having a complete overhaul of their CPD programme. At Intuitive Education, we understand that. We’ve been there. We are on hand to not only oer CPD, but we can analyze your data and let you know your areas of strength and areas for development also. We can work with individual sta members to boost potential or address your whole team. As always, it’s your choice.

– Jennifer McGuigan

Academic consultant Jennifer McGuigan has 17 years’ experience within education in Ireland, the U.K. and the Middle East, working at Teacher, Deputy Head Teacher and Head Teacher Levels. In her most recent school in the U.K. she led a phenomenal change, taking it from “Serious Weaknesses” to “Good” within 24 months. She has also worked as a Specialist Leader of Education for a registered National Teaching Alliance, helping troubled schools in numerous areas, from supporting NQTs in the early years to dealing with capability procedures.