***Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a planned series of stories analysing the Education Data Report 2021.***
In the Fall 2020 term following the closure of schools due to COVID-19, Year 6 public primary school students scored significantly worse on tests designed to measure their reasoning abilities than students had the year before the pandemic.
Results on the ‘Cognitive Abilities Test Fourth Edition’ (or CAT4) predicted that anywhere from 2 to 4 times as many Year 6 students in 2020/2021 would be unable to pass Reading, Writing or Mathematics as the CAT4 tests had predicted for Year 6 students in the prior school year.
In reality, more Year 6 students ended up passing Reading and Maths than the year before, although the percentage of students ‘exceeding expectations’ was lower in all 3 subject areas, according to the Education Data Report 2021.
‘Cognitive Abilities Test’
In Years 4, 6 and 9, government schools evaluate students’ “reasoning (thinking) abilities” using the CAT4.
CAT4 is not a test of ‘knowledge’ (like the CSECs or GCSEs) but is designed to assess a student’s ability to think — i.e. in terms of words, numbers, shapes, and space.
“CAT4 is also used as a valuable screening tool to identify a pupil’s strengths, weaknesses and learning preferences and to help set challenging but realistic targets. Significant identified variations between the potential measured by CAT4 and actual outcomes can form the basis for further investigation of potential barriers to learning,” according to the report.
The Data Report sorts the student population into 3 groups based on their CAT4 results — those predicted to perform ‘below expectations’, those predicted to perform ‘at expectations’, and those predicted to ‘exceed expectations’.
The Data Report also divides students into 3 groups based on their ‘actual results’ at the end of Year 6, as assessed by teachers.
The outcome is that you can see how many students were expected to fail, pass or excel, and then how many students actually did — in three main subject areas: Reading, Writing and Maths.
Predictions, 2019/2020 vs. 2020/2021
For Year 6 students in the 2020/2021 school year, CAT4 results predicted that 65% of students would pass Reading, compared to 91% the year before; that 76% would pass Writing, compared to 91% the year before; and that 58% would pass Maths, compared to 81% the year before.
While the number of students predicted to be able to 'meet expectations' in the 3 subject areas was similar from year to year, the number of students predicted to 'exceed expectations' declined to zero (in Reading and Maths) or nearly zero (2% in Writing).
The year before, CAT4 results predicted that 28% of Year 6 students would 'exceed expectations' in Reading, 20% in Writing and 24% in Maths.
The 2020/2021 students would have taken the CAT4 tests after returning to school in Fall 2020 following the closure of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
Actual Results, 2019/2020 vs. 2020/2021
At the end of the 2020/2021 school year, which was uninterrupted while the Cayman Islands was in a 'COVID-free bubble', the overall results for Year 6 students were mixed, compared to both the CAT4 predictions and the results from the prior year's cohort.
However, the Year 6 students did perform better than was suggested by the gaps in the CAT4 predictions between the 2 cohorts.
In Reading, the actual results from the 2020/2021 Year 6 students matched the CAT4 predictions, with 65% of students passing and none 'exceeding expectations'.
In 2019/2020, by comparison, 60% of students passed Reading -- though 17% 'exceeded expectations'.
In Writing, the actual results from 2020/2021 Year 6 students were worse than the CAT4 predictions, with 48% of students passing, although 5% did 'exceed expectations'.
In 2019/2020, by comparison, 55% of students passed Writing, with 8% 'exceeding expectations'.
In Mathematics, the actual results from 2020/2021 Year 6 students were better than the CAT4 predictions, with 63% of students passing and 8% 'exceeding expectations'.
In 2019/2020, by comparison, 58% of students passed Maths, with 12% 'exceeding expectations'.
Read the Education Data Report 2021 here: