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Cognitive Abilities Test CBSE Edition (CAT4), GL Assessment

Understanding student potential

Ashoka Universal School, Nashik, India

Using CAT4, the school has developed a more personalised approach to teaching and learning, ensuring their students make excellent all-round progress.

Forward-thinking Ashoka Universal School (AUS), part of Ashoka Education Foundation, is committed to redefining excellence in education.

Using the Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT4), the school has developed a more personalised approach to teaching and learning, ensuring their students make excellent all-round progress.

The school are already seeing an impact. Shallu Sethi, Vice Principal, explains: “Children are often taught to succeed in exams by remembering and reproducing data, but we felt our students had deeper capabilities.

Over 4,000 children attend our school, aged from three to 18 years old, and they come from a diverse range of backgrounds, nationalities and religions. We wanted a way to explore their individual abilities. When I first learnt about CAT4, I knew it could help us better understand the students’ potential.”

Uncovering differences between attainment and ability

CAT4 measures the four main types of reasoning ability that are known to make a difference to learning and achievement: verbal, non-verbal, quantitative and spatial ability. It gives valuable insight into students’ strengths and areas for development, and enables teachers to adapt their teaching methods to suit the needs of the students. It does not refer to any specific curriculum or rely on English as a first language.

Shallu continues: “We follow the ICSE curriculum up to Class X and ISC curriculum in Class XI and XII. These are taught primarily in English although 75% of our students have a different first language. I liked the fact this was not an issue with CAT4 because three of the four sections of the test are not reliant on language skills.

When I decided to take up a trial of CAT4, I took a sample of two year groups, and saw just how significant the benefits could be in the long run.

There were some really surprising results from children who, up until this point, had not performed well in tests. For example, there was one eight year old boy in Grade 3 who didn’t excel in class, yet it turned out his spatial ability was the highest in the class – an important indicator for success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. We could also see that it was his low verbal reasoning ability that was impacting his attainment. Using the data has enabled teachers to personalise and differentiate teaching that will help him realise his potential within science and maths.”

Informing literacy and maths interventions

By analysing whole school data, AUS has been able to clearly identify two weaker areas affecting their students.

Shallu explains: “The first area was the verbal battery where our scores were comparatively low. We’ve realised that some children are not working at the level their abilities suggest as their low literacy is holding them back. We are now taking steps to increase our literacy interventions and have implemented a six-month intensive programme specifically aimed at helping students with their reading and essay writing. By doing this, we aim to help the children to realise their potential across science, maths and social sciences.

The second area was quantitative reasoning. The results from two year groups in particular were also comparatively low, indicating the need for greater support. Identifying these areas has given us the chance to work on ways to enhance clarity around topics and we have invested in additional maths resources to support maths classes, including extensive Maths programme. Importantly, we have also provided teachers with additional training so they are now able to use a wider range of support strategies.”

Exceptional benefits

The school is offering IGCSE alongside the current ICSE Indian exam board, and they will be using CAT4 data to identify which children are likely to be successful in IGCSE, and to help 14- and 15-year olds who are deciding which options to take.

“Those who have scored well in the spatial and non-verbal batteries, for example, need to know that they could have particular aptitude in STEM areas,” Shallu explains.

AUS is also encouraging learners to get more involved in their own learning. They are given their reports and they look at them in small groups to share their understanding; an approach that is already having an impact. Students are doing better at the higher grade XII level and preparing them for the more analytical skills they will need at tertiary level.

“I am now looking at other assessments from GL Educations such as the New Group Reading Test to help with our literacy interventions and the attitudinal survey PASS to discover what our students’ attitudes to learning are,” adds Shallu, “I have learnt a lot from CAT4 – it’s helping make sure we are on the right track for a world class education.”


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