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To think that CATS tests or IQ tests are potentially damaging

(11 Posts)
ReallyTired Fri 12-Oct-12 18:30:47

Intelligence is complex and malliable. The brain is like a muscle and can be made stronger by learning and experience. Conversely if you don't use your brain you lose it. Sometimes people's IQ does change during teens.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15369851

I feel that secondary schools that stream children by CATS results do potential damage to the children's self esteem and waste potential. Surely it would be better to have mixed ablity for the first term and then put children into sets when they have settled into secondary school. Or prehaps group children according to their primary school teacher's recommendation.

One of the secondary schools near me streams (yes, steam not set for individual subjects) on the basis of a 90 minute CATS test taken in September. I can see the benefit in CATS tests to identify special needs, but I feel its far too crude a tool for assessing ablity.

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Fri 12-Oct-12 18:37:43

I went to our local comps open evening recently and asked about this as my child will be starting y7 and having a cat test when he gets there. I was assured that it is only used as a guide, and that by the time the information gained from it made a difference, the teacher was likely to have a good idea of where my child should be set anyway. They start off by setting children based on SATs results and primary school reports, and the teachers use all of the information they have to decide which class a child should be in, not just the CAT.

So I don't think it's damaging, YABU, it's just a tool.

My older child had to have a test like an IQ test done by an ed psych, he thoroughly enjoyed it.

pointyfangs Fri 12-Oct-12 18:38:24

I think SATs are far more damaging - wasting more than a term drilling for a test whose only use is to feed the league tables with distorted facts. Months of learning opportunities wasted...

CATs on the other hand - DD1 did them this year (Yr7) and said they were fun. They were presented in a very low key way and DD said it felt like doing puzzles. Yes, she knows she will be set partly on the basis of the tests, but that doesn't bother her, and yes, the setting will also take the first term's work into account.

I completely disagree with streaming, it's a stupid way of handling things, but setting if flexibly and intelligently done can work really well.

cardibach Fri 12-Oct-12 18:39:06

I'm a teacher asn feel that the best way to find out a child's ability/potential is to ask his or her teacher. I'm a bit fed up with having my professional knowledge undermined by, or ignored in favour of, data from any sort of snapshot test.
I therefore think that YANBU.

GhostShip Fri 12-Oct-12 21:09:30

When I did my CAT tests at school I was told I had the highest score in England. I still to this day have no proof of that, or why they actually told me.

They're a load of crap anyway, what are they actually used for?

avenueone Fri 12-Oct-12 21:21:55

My academic results were average sometime a bit below average and when my IQ score came up really high I was shocked but it gave me confidence and whilst my end exams never came to that much my working life has progressed very well.
What I think about all that - these tests have their place, I don't think they should be used for academic sets as they look at different aspects of a persons make up. I also don't think the teacher's opinion, esp. in primary education is entirely right as they don't have the knowledge of the entire scope of possibilities any individual will have going forward in their life.
For me - children and adults can only do `their best' and if they find things they like concentrate on them (bar english and maths which we need to keep having a bash at). My success in the work place came from a love of the job and I have gained the skills around it more actively in order to do what I enjoyed.

notnowImreading Fri 12-Oct-12 21:23:15

The brain is not a muscle or like a muscle. That is silly and very bad science.

BlueSkySinking Fri 12-Oct-12 21:25:30

I think it's probably OK to use as a starting point for streaming as long as children are moved up and down each term in order to make sure everyone is in the right set

germyrabbit Fri 12-Oct-12 21:25:33

i wish they had waited a bit in my son's secondary, his teachers assessments from primary were okay but in tests he's just crap, so he's been put in lower ability class.

he doesn't seem to mind, but it annoys me that they haven't judged from teaching him themselves. he's only 11, education in this country is all about tests tests tests imo

ilikemysleep Fri 12-Oct-12 21:37:37

cardibach - don't always agree. My son's teacher told me that he should be learning the number bonds to 20 instead of to 10 like the rest of his class, because he is so able. He already knows all his number bonds to 20, adds and subtracts 2 2 digit numbers in his head, and has taught himself most of his times tables over the Summer holiday from a book bought for his elder brother. He's 5. She knows he's 'bright' but for whatever reason she hasn't got any handle on what he knows or what he could do. I also quite often find kids who have got all the way to secondary school sitting quietly in the corner not having their severe learning difficulties fully grasped, or children who are judged to have general learning difficulties who when assessed are actually perfectly bright but with dyslexia or specific memory difficulties or receptive language difficulties or whatever.

And I don't know if it's just my children's school but they will never tell us parents where the children are other than 'at, above or below' national expectations, in case we compare notes I suppose!

OP - Intelligence is complex and malleable and an IQ test should never be taken as a finite measure of a child's absolute potential. What it does is provide a snapshot of a child's performance on a certain day. However in the majority of cases whilst there may be some shift a few points either way, it's relatively rare for there to be a massive change in tested IQ over time - for example, a child going from a learning difficulties level IQ to a high average IQ would be remarkable, but going from mild learning difficulties to low average would not be that unusual. The main categories are children learning English (who shouldn't be tested for a good long while anyway), children with late language development or language difficulties (can change dramatically once their language skills 'kick in') and children who have had very limited exposure to information (eg neglected children or children who have never seen a book before they start school and never go out).

CATS should always be part of the jigsaw of info about a child not the only thing taken into account, of course, but I can't see that they are automatically unhelpful.

ReallyTired Fri 12-Oct-12 22:57:41

notnowImreading

It is science to say that the brain is like a muscle. The more learning and mental challenge your brain does the more neuro connections it builds.

www.livescience.com/4336-smart-strategy-brain-muscle.html

Adult brains can grow and develop as well.

www.livescience.com/505-adult-brain-cells-growing.html

Otherwise no one over the age of 40 would be able to use the internet or a mobile phone.

germyrabbit I agree with you. Its plain lazy to set children on the basis of a 90 minute test.

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