Testing SEND and EAL students

SEND accommodations

Broadly, we recommend the following regarding accommodations for CAT4. The advice may vary depending on the purpose of the assessment and the needs of each individual child. 

The following test accommodations CAN be used with CAT4 paper or digital:

  • Prompts (prompting students to keep them on track) 
  • Coloured overlay 

The following test accommodations CANNOT be used with CAT4 paper or digital: 

  • Reader (for actual questions – reading out instructions is okay) 
  • Additional time (see detail below) 

The following test accommodations MIGHT be acceptable to use with CAT4 paper or digital – please contact us for further details: 

  • Practical assistant 
  • Enlargement (can only be used with paper CAT4) 

If you have other accommodations or needs that are not listed above, please contact us:

It is important to note that these tests have not been standardised using Access Arrangements. Therefore, when providing these during the test process caution is made to the impact that this may have on scores.

Is additional time allowed for children with SEND?

CAT4 is a timed assessment and additional time is not permitted as this will affect the reliability of the results. CAT4 is not just about what and how it tests but how the questions are answered within a set timeframe. The timed element makes it diagnostically very powerful.

CAT4 subtests are generously timed and most children reach the final questions, however there may have been a minority of students during the standardisation process who would have obtained higher scores if they had been given more time. Therefore, giving extra time to a particular student could give an inflated view of their relative ability when comparing their results with the CAT4 norms.

Can CAT4 be used with dyslexic students?

In short, this depends on what information the school wishes to gain from the test scores.

It is generally accepted that dyslexia is best described as a continuum from people who are so mildly affected that they may be unaware that they have any dyslexia traits to those who are severely affected. For this reason, it is difficult to make a definitive judgement about the suitability of a test battery like CAT4 for a particular individual.

Some dyslexic students, especially those with only a mild degree of the condition, may have marked strengths in non-verbal, mathematical and spatial reasoning tasks. In these cases, the benefits of using CAT4 are clear. CAT4 can also help to identify children who need additional support in particular areas, such as children with dyslexia who have not yet been identified.

Children who routinely have a reader (in a SATs maths test, for example) may be supported by a reader through the introductory sections of the Verbal Reasoning, Non-verbal Reasoning, Quantitative and Spatial Reasoning batteries, however students need to answer the timed sections independently. This means that students must also read the Verbal Reasoning section of the test by themselves without a reader.

If it is appropriate, schools may choose to omit the Verbal Reasoning section for a particular student. This means that the full profile will not be available, however diagnostic information will be yielded from other parts of CAT4. For instance, the Spatial Reasoning battery provides a direct assessment of visual-spatial processing, which is usually unaffected by dyslexic difficulties and may even prove a positive strength. Providing a dyslexic individual with assessment results that reveal they have such a strength is useful for their future learning and may also provide a much-needed morale booster.

For more severely affected students, it may be more appropriate to obtain a different assessment of cognitive abilities by an educational psychologist. This is not because different types of assessment involve different skills and abilities. Assessments such as the British Ability Scales (BAS3) are more likely to reveal the intellectual strengths of a severely dyslexic person than one that requires reading or performance under time limits.

Testing EAL students

CAT4 can be used to identify English as an Additional Language (EAL) needs through analysis of verbal deficits. See Identifying Academic Needs and Strategies for Intervention.

As the Non-verbal Reasoning and Spatial Ability Batteries do not rely on reading or the use of English, they can be particularly useful when assessing students who have English as an additional language.

Case studies and further reading

Please see ‘Case Studies’ in the Teacher Guidance for ‘Case Study 3: Students with English as an additional language’. 

Please also see The Middle Child: Analysing Data in the ‘Appendices’ section of the Teacher Guidance. 

The value of CAT4 and NGRT with a multi-national student cohort in Malaysia