How does Nobel use data to support learning?
CATS – Cognitive Ability Tests
When students arrive at Nobel they are given a series of CATS tests to enable the school to get an overview of their ability. We do this to give ourselves a baseline for each student.
Although they have Key stage 2 results when they arrive, students have often been coached to take the tests and we prefer to take a snapshot without the impact of coaching or before Nobel has worked with students for any length of time. CATS have also proved to be a very reliable way of helping us to determine how to guide students when they make choices later on in their school career.
The tests are designed so that any students with reading difficulties are not disadvantaged.
CAT’s are divided into three areas:
The verbal reasoning element assesses reasoning processes using the words. Such processes include: identifying relationships between things (e.g. ‘big’ is the opposite of ‘small’) and reasoning deductively (‘A’ is taller than ‘B’ and ‘B’ is taller than ‘C’; therefore ‘A’ is taller than ‘C’). It is not an assessment of wider language skills such as speaking, listening or writing.
The quantitative tests look at the same processes but use numbers as the symbols. For example determining rules and applying these to new cases (2->3,9->10,6->_? Answer (7)) and determining patterns and relationships in series (1, 4, 7, _? Answer (10)).
The non-verbal tests again look at reasoning processes but use shapes and figures. Because these questions require no knowledge of English language, or the number system, they are particularly useful when assessing children with poor English language skills.
An average score for all three tests is generated. Experience indicates that:
- Students scoring below 85 will have general difficulties within the academic areas;
- Students scoring around 120 will probably be on the Gifted and Talented register;
- The national average is about 100.
The CAT tests can support teachers in: choice of curriculum materials; organisation of small groupings of students; maintaining an appropriate pace of learning; choice of teaching approaches; target-setting; identifying learning difficulties; advising students.
The organization that provides the tests (NFER) also provides the school with data based on the test results that predict GCSE results for all subjects based on each individual student’s CATS tests.
Fischer Family Trust (FFT)
The Fischer Family Trust (FFT) is an independent, non-profit organisation which is mainly involved in undertaking and supporting projects addressing the development of education in the UK. The Fischer Family Trust is a registered charity.
One aspect of their work is helping Local Authorities and Schools to make more effective use of Performance Data. They are now working with all the local authorities in England and Wales & provide a range of analyses to support self- evaluation, assessment and target setting.
Using different combinations of the following: prior attainment; gender; month of birth; school context; student context, minimum and challenge targets are generated for each student in each of their subjects. These are the targets that you will see on students’ reports.
At KS3 targets are numerical values e.g. 5.8, like money the higher the value the better the score. The suffixes .8, .5 .3 are used instead of a, b, c which may be seen elsewhere. At KS4 FFT the targets are given as grades A*-G to correspond with GCSE grades.
A Level Performance Systems (ALPS)
- ALPS is a much simpler system than many of the others and is now used in the 6th form to produce target grades.
- ALPS uses national GCSE/BTEC to A Level/BTEC results over a number of years.
- Basically, students in ‘this context’, with ‘these GCSE results’ should get ‘these A Level results.
There are of course drawbacks to this simple system but other schools using ALPS targets have found they can be used to raise standards.
For your information, all Nobel KS3 students study three Design and Technology subjects each year on a carousel model – approximately 12 weeks per subject. The subjects are deliberately quite different from each other in terms of activities and outcomes to ensure that each student has as broad an experience as possible during their KS3 Curriculum. This allows your son/daughter to make an ‘informed choice’ with regard to the DT subjects that they may choose at GCSE.
The ‘data’ drop reporting schedule for all other subjects in the school does not always fall in line with the completion of a DT module. The grade reported therefore, may appear to be more inconsistent than other subjects, and your son/daughter may not appear to be ‘in line with’ or ‘on target for’ the aspirational grade set as their End of Year target.
It is quite normal for some students to excel at Food Technology but struggle with using workshop tools and equipment or a computer based activity such as laser cutting, the reverse is equally applicable. Historical data for the school shows us that across the three disciplines students will generally achieve their end of year DT Target Grade if they apply themselves to their best ability in all three subject areas.
The most up-to-date assessment of your son/daughters working level at the end of a module (term) can be found at the front of their DT working booklet.
View the Student Progress Journey in PDF format.