Communicating the results
CAT4 reports include combinations of visual, numerical and textual information. It is likely that certain elements of the reports will appeal to, and be more readily understood by, some people more than others. For example, some people will instantly pick up meaning from a graph but may struggle to make sense of the table of data on which the graph is based.
As a communicator, varying the style in which you convey test results is a valuable skill. By building on what listeners find most intuitive, you can support understanding of those areas that are less intuitive.
Consider the amount of information that it is necessary to convey. Detailed group reports may contain more information than is needed for some purposes. Match the information to the listeners’ needs and make sure it is communicated clearly.
Ensure that communication is a genuine dialogue. Particularly when new to CAT4 results, recipients are likely to have many questions and they will need the opportunity to absorb the information and ask questions.
It is useful to check understanding and clarify actions after communicating results. Listening carefully to the recipients’ understanding of what they have heard is a good way of checking that information has been understood. You may want to give opportunities for follow-up questions and further discussion.
Communicating results to:
In most schools, arranging the CAT4 testing sessions and reviewing and implementing results will be the responsibility of a single senior teacher or a small team of colleagues.
The Group report for teachers will help in communicating results and, importantly, details of learning biases among students in different teaching groups. This may allow those with similar or contrasting profiles to be taught together, with mutual benefits.
The narrative that is now part of the Individual report for teachers includes implications for teaching and learning, which offer brief insights into how different levels of ability combined with learning preferences may affect a student’s learning. It is hoped that simple adjustments based on CAT4 results and other information about the student can improve outcomes.
One of the main uses of CAT4 is to help teachers understand the potential and the learning needs of students and so differentiate their teaching methods accordingly. The full pattern of results from CAT4 needs to be considered, as abilities will work in interaction with each other and not in isolation. Differentiation of teaching methods can then be achieved in a way that draws on students’ strengths and, through these, supports weaker areas.
CAT4 is a test that students do not need to prepare for. It is important that the test sessions should be an integral part of the timetable to avoid undue anxiety in students. Older students may want to know what CAT4 is about. It is a well-known test and there may be misinformation circulating about why students are being tested and how results are used.
Give a short explanation: CAT4 is an assessment of ability in four different areas and has no direct connection to the curriculum, so it cannot be prepared for. Reassure the students that results will be used to understand better how they learn.
Whatever their scores, it is important for all students to understand that the information gained from CAT4 testing can form the basis of plans for their future development, which they themselves can take some control over. Students should be encouraged to think positively about their results.
It is recommended that relative strengths and weaknesses are presented, followed by a discussion with the student.
Checking that students have understood their results and the implications of these results is important, particularly for those with lower CAT4 results. It is essential that every student, whatever their ability, should take some positives away from a discussion of their CAT4 results.
As with the communication of results to students, there is no single best or right way of doing this. It is recommended that the report is discussed with parents rather than simply being sent to them. Even though the reports have been written for a parent audience, discussing results with parents will ensure that the content is understood accurately.
The reports can also be used as a focus for further exploration of strengths and learning needs with parents and as a way of engaging parents in actions they can take at home. In this way, CAT4 can be used as an effective tool for reinforcing school-based learning activities in the home.
Please find template letters for parents and more information about communicating with parents in the downloads section.
CAT4 results can be relevant to a range of other professionals who are involved with students’ welfare and development. Some colleagues may have a limited knowledge of testing and so the introductory text that forms part of the new reports will be useful in giving a quick overview and an example of the test material in CAT4.
Issues to bear in mind when communicating results
- Information from any test is most meaningful when it is communicated as part of a broader assessment of a student, rather than in isolation.
- It is important to distinguish between what can be considered as ‘fact’ and what is ‘opinion’. The CAT4 results provide factual information on the student’s level of reasoning ability across the four batteries at the time of testing. Opinions are the professional judgements that teachers and others who know the student may make.
- Any misconceptions of CAT4 being a measure of fixed ability should be challenged. Like physical abilities, cognitive abilities can be developed through experience and practice.
- Low CAT4 scores should never be used to put a ceiling on expectations of what the student can achieve, particularly if the student comes from an economically or socially disadvantaged background. Results should be used as the basis for planning activities and a learning programme that is aimed at improving all students’ reasoning abilities alongside their attainment in curriculum subjects.
Please see ‘Communicating the Results’ in the Teacher Guidance to learn more.