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Son did badly in Y7 CATS - does he have low iq?

(20 Posts)
ihateminecraft Thu 26-Nov-15 06:53:25

Firstly, my 12 year old does have a diagnosis of dyslexia as well as some mild sensory processing issues (mostly auditory and visual). He also has "aspects of ASD" but not enough to have ASD. Therefore, he has always struggled at school and received extra support. However, he still managed to achieve level 4 SATS which I believe is due to attending an excellent primary school and the fact he always gives 100% effort.

However, despite struggling academically, I always assumed he was quite bright in some other areas. For example, he has an amazing eye for detail, is very practical and creative and an amazing sense of direction. He wants to go into construction or mechanics which I assume he'd be ideally suited.

I've just discovered that he has performed very poorly across the board in Y7 CATS tests, not just in maths and English as expected but in areas such as spacial awareness which shocked me. He last did a non verbal reasoning test age 7 when assessed for dyslexia and was a good average then, so a relative strength.

The good side of this is that he is getting lots of extra help which I had assumed I would have to fight for given that he came to them as "national average". I just feel deflated rather worried for his future. Do these tests really mean he's a bit dim (I actually don't think he is!) or something to be taken with a large pinch of salt?

The teacher actually said he is performing a lot better in class than expected which she believes is down to his amazing effort and determination.

SettlinginNicely Thu 26-Nov-15 07:46:18

I'd take it with a pinch of salt. A CAT test is supposed to indicate what he will be able to achieve. If he is "over-achieving" already compared to the CAT test predictive score, then it is the CAT test that is wrong, not his achievement!

Your son sounds like a great kid. I'd be proud of his efforts and all that he has achieved so far, which I reckon is a much stronger indicator of what he will achieve than a CAT test. It's just nice that he is getting the support that he needs without you having to fight so hard for it.

Squashybanana Thu 26-Nov-15 07:54:08

Bollocks to CATS. They are given in the earliest weeks of a major transition experience where children barely know if they are coming or going and can be severely affected by speed of processing, anxiety, or just plain having a bad day. It's no surprise that kids who aren't as resiliant often do surprisingly badly in these assessments and end up with really low targets. Maybe he's doing well in classes because the tests are wrong? And the primary school assessments are correct? I never get why secondary schools place more faith in these tests given in such stressful circumstances than in the reporting of the primary school who has known the child for years. My own DS also did badly in his CATS, he has aspergers and found transition really hard. He came 124 out of 128 in his maths assessment. for example, 4th from bottom in the whole year. He got level 5 for maths in year 6 and should get an A or A* for GCSE. He just couldn't manage the pace on the day.
Incidentally I am an ed psych so I know a thing or two about testing, and I know that it can be severely impacted by external factors. So go and advocate for your son, don't let them underestimate him if you think it's not a reflection of his abilities.

smee Thu 26-Nov-15 09:14:38

I think it's all a bit random too. My son's dyslexic and did some CATs in yr 6 as part of banding for secondary selection. He came out as C band (of bands A-D), yet he got all L5 SATs in yr6. The SENCO told me they did new CATs tests at the start of term, but ignored the results as they didn't correlate with what they were seeing him achieve in class, or with the report from his primary/ SAT results. A good school should do just that, so get to know the child and work from there. It's great that he's getting extra help. Maybe they are more on it than you think?

ReallyTired Thu 26-Nov-15 09:23:27

One test on an October morning does not measure a child's intelligence nor predict their future. I feel that many schools and teachers do not understand the limitations of CAT testing. CAT testing can be useful for picking up learning difficulties like dyslexia though.

Children need to know that they alone have control over how well they do at school. They cannot turn themselves into Einstein, but they can affect whether they come out with a nice clump of GCSEs or nothing. The amount of effort a child puts in does affect outcome to an extent.

BishopBrennansArse Thu 26-Nov-15 09:29:42

Looking at the spatial element any chance of mild dyspraxia? These things do often tie together.

The results on themselves aren't as important as what will be done with them. A placement that bands strictly on results would concern me more than a placement that whilst not disregarding the 'one test on one day' element of CATs looks at them within the wider picture of every day progress.

ihateminecraft Thu 26-Nov-15 09:56:57

Hmm doubt it. His gross & fine motor skills are good (swims/rides a bike well). He is also very good practically - if something breaks in the house he can usually figure out how it goes together and fix it! Is this a different skill to good non verbal reasoning? I always assumed they were related. He was assessed by OT who said his ball skills were weak as was his visual processing skills (couldn't copy patterns accurately). He was amazing though at producing a 3d model from a 2d picture. Very confusing!

It's sad that so much importance is placed on academic abilities. I only hope that his practical & creative abilities together with his strong work ethic and likeable personality will mean he does well in life, even if he doesn't have a string of GCSES.

Needmoresleep Thu 26-Nov-15 10:16:52

Ignore it, and make sure the school does. DD was at a Prep and did CATs in Yr 6, to help guide senior school recommendations. (A later comment by her maths teacher was that it would be easier to ask the teachers, but presumably that is not what SMTs do.) Anyway hers were awful and the school told us she would not be able to cope with an academic school. It then transpired that since she had been fine academically, or rather lost in the middle, but they had forgotten she had a dyslexia report though the then Head was quick to assert he did not believe in dyslexia so maybe they binned it In fairness her Tiffin test score was equally low.

Roll on 7 years and she is fine. With the support of a covering letter, a supportive school reference from her Deputy Head, and an updated assessment she gained a place at her preferred private secondary and is doing fine. That said we are facing some of the same problem with her medical school application. Top A2 predictions, yet lacklustre results on her aptitiude test.

1 Talk to the schol and seek reassurances that decisions won't be based solely on CAT results.
2. Ensure he is getting appropriate support. It helps my daughter for teachers to know she has problems. There is often a big discrepancy between class performance and written work. Things that help include a nominated study buddy, someone who agrees to share notes etc, handouts in advance, different marking in class tests. No extra time so DD is often marked on what she gets down. She then does the last couple of questions at home. Sitting in the corner in exams where it is quieter and there is less distraction.
3. Make sure he knows he has different skills. DD is ambidextrous so good at sport. She has a great oral memory so retains a lot from class, and is good at facial recognition. She is lucky in that she is a natural scientist so has risen through the year group as maths and science got harder. That confidence is very important, as she could equally easily accepted the school's view aged 10 and stayed lost in the middle.

Kennington Thu 26-Nov-15 10:21:43

People develop at different rates
I have family members who were written off only to become extremely academic much later on
But the memory of being side lined never left them
It sounds like he has some real potential and he is super young anday just prefer a different way of learning

CarlaJones Thu 26-Nov-15 14:50:57

"He is also very good practically - if something breaks in the house he can usually figure out how it goes together and fix it!"
"He was amazing though at producing a 3d model from a 2d picture"

I don't know about cat tests, but it sounds like he will be highly employable with those skills.

ihateminecraft Thu 26-Nov-15 16:24:09

His dad (a mechamic) is exactly the same. Hopeless academically, despite trying really hard (almost certainly an undiagnosed dyslexic), but practically very able.

GinandJag Thu 26-Nov-15 18:20:00

The school I spent most of my teaching career used MidYIS and we took on board the information they provided in our lesson planning and in tracking and supporting students. The deeper I got into learning about the tests, the more fascinated I was and I think this made me a better teacher and school leader.

The school I am temping at now (outstanding comp) does not share CAT results with teachers. The only baseline info teacher have is KS2 SATs. I am seriously shocked at this. It seems the only purpose of CATs for them is in calculating added values, rather than informing teaching.

Millymollymama Thu 26-Nov-15 18:26:58

Many professional jobs in construction require decent qualifications as well, so do not lose sight of that.

I thought all information was used to measure progress! Schools often find KS2 sats to be inflated anyway, so Y7 testing is quite normal to get a realistic baseline.

Needmoresleep Thu 26-Nov-15 18:46:24

MMM I disagree that CATS form a "realistic baseline". If DD's results had been used to inform setting, set targets, and/or shared with teachers, she would would have been written off long ago.

The sad thing is that this does seem to have happened to one or two of her bright but dyslexic friends from primary.

Where CAT scores can be useful is to suggest a gap between score and actual performance. So a really poor score, and I think DDs must have been shocking based on the school's reaction at the time, but reasonable performance or vice versa, could suggest SPLD.

And if a child is supported and motivated, a poor CAT score does not mean they won't get good qualifications to match their natural talent.

AprilLady Thu 26-Nov-15 19:05:47

A poor CAT score can also simply mean a child had a bad day. For one of my DC I have results from two CAT tests done about a year apart and they are quite different. The HT dismissed the weaker of the two tests, simply saying that it was obviously wrong given DC's actual performance academically.

Interestingly, articles I have read suggest a high CAT score is actually more reliable than a lower score, since it is quite unlikely a child would get a high score through random chance rather than ability.

MyLifeisaboxofwormgears Thu 26-Nov-15 19:07:30

CAT tests mostly measure how good you are at passing CAT tests.

ihateminecraft Thu 26-Nov-15 21:38:53

DS was not expected to get Level 4 at SATS, based on his y2 results, yet he exceeded his targets all the way through junior school. I don't think he's good at tests, although he spent the best part of y6 doing endless mock SATs papers in which I believe his performance was erratic. It does seem strange that he previously had a decent non verbal score and now it's very low. Is it possible for such a skill to deteriorate over 4 years? It reminds me that one of my other DC (also dyslexic) scored high average in a processing speed test and then scored below average in the same test with a different Ed Psych 6 months later! It does seem that school recognise that his performance is better than his CATS suggest. The SENCO said he may not stay in the SEN group for long if he carries on as he is. Interestingly, they didn't use CATS when setting for maths and he's been placed in the middle set and is apparently coping well (his maths was always at least as bad as his literacy too).

PiqueABoo Fri 27-Nov-15 22:36:14

The amount of effort a child puts in does affect outcome to an extent.

Sorry, but it's my current mission in life to point to articles like this one whenever I see that M-word (it includes a response from Dweck):

I'm not disputing effort though and on the 'extent' Plomin's very credible world recently claimed that outcomes in exams are dependent on a roughly equal proportions of intelligence and behavioral traits.

"articles I have read suggest a high CAT score is actually more reliable than a lower score, since it is quite unlikely a child would get a high score through random chance rather than ability."

That's clearly true from a distance, but when you zoom in and look at the error bars the 'true' score associated with a high reported score is more likely to be lower than higher. It won't be hugely different though. Similarly at the other extreme in reverse e.g. the 'true' score associated with a low reported score is more likely to be higher, than lower.

"Interestingly, they didn't use CATS when setting for maths"

Y8 DD's secondary used the KS2 SATs for setting maths in Y7. I'm not sure what they did with CATs, but I hope they looked at significant discrepencies between some children's KS2 SATs and their CATs i.e. perhaps found a few children who probably should have achieved better SATs. They do use a CAT score threshold as a way of identifying their 'most able', although that doesn't seem to do anything much in practice apart from tick an Ofsted box and there are other routes.

As a general point threads like these do tend to select for comments about CATs being rubbish which is certainly true for some individual's results, but for the overwhelming majority they are reasonably reliable. CATs, or at least one famous brand, also correlate quite strongly with IQ e.g. 0.8.

ihateminecraft Fri 27-Nov-15 23:30:00

I wonder how reliable CATS are when testing kids with specific learning difficulties though as most of things CATS tests for are things a dyslexic child would struggle with such as Literacy/Maths, memory, verbal reasoning. The only exception is non verbal reasoning which he has in the past been at least a average at so I'm not sure why he's deteriorated so much, unless he just had a bad day. I know that he's clearly not stupid though as his non academic skills prove. NB. his paternal grandfather (who is a very intelligent man) has said that he is the most fascinating and interesting to chat to out of all 6 grandchildren!

popuptent Sat 28-Nov-15 07:03:38

My dyslexic DS has had both CATs and a full IQ test (which is meant to be more accurate). The results are wildly different, especially the verbal one with a difference of 27 percentile points going from G&T to average. I remember my son getting confused with little boxes swimming around for a start. It is possible to underachieve on the CATs tests but not overachieve. A friend's son just left 6th form with A*A*A and his CATs results were way down below average - he has dyslexia. It's a concern that school GCSE predictions and expectations could be based on CATs scores. There are confidence bands which may be correct for the majority but there will be the small percentage who fall outside and are left with misleading results.

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