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View Full Version : Is the CAT considered an easy test?



Ariadne
06-06-2011, 04:39 PM
In other words, if one kid aces it, big deal? And if another kid struggles then I've got problems?

My kids aren't used to taking tests. We have never done any kind of testing before, and we just finished up the CAT for the first time.

I haven't gotten results back, obviously. I just looked it over to see how many they got wrong.

I was extremely pleased with the progress of one child, surprised at the nervousness claimed by one (which affected her score, when I thought she'd ace it), and depressed about one child because this is his second time through 5th grade.

I did this so that my husband would have something concrete in his hands, as he has long been iffy about homeschooling, and his mother isn't pleased that we homeschool and lets us know.

:(:(:(:(

Accidental Homeschooler
06-06-2011, 04:49 PM
I don't know if this is relevant to your concern, but my daughter was first tested in 3rd grade at school. She had a couple high scores and a lot of low ones. Then she was tested in 4th grade and her scores put her in the school's gifted program. She has been testing high since then. Maybe try testing again in six months or so, especially if it is a concern (to you or your husband). This was the ITBS so I don't know how similar it is.

dbmamaz
06-06-2011, 05:13 PM
Most people say the CAT is easy - but I tell you, I was in a panic over my youngest's reading comp score last year! But the percentile was fine - apparently a lot of 1st graders couldnt really read that well. So obviously you need to wait and see the results . . . but if its the second time through 5th grade, i admit, it doesnt bode well. Are you guys using curriculum at all? I forget . . . and was it both the math and the english, or just one or the other?

We did our first test section today. I dont watch Orion at all, but Raven . . . well, first he had no idea what a cellar is. We dont use the word. Ever. And there was one other one, i forget, which he chose the wrong word. But thats a lot better than he did last year, so I'm chosing not to panic. Last year the only subtest one of them did lower than the supposed cut-off level for the state was Orion's arithmatic (not math concepts, but basic calculation). But his overall math score was fine and his english score was high. Raven, of course, scores higher on the math. whatever.

oh, also, we spread it out a lot. We did 1 subtest today, then we had martail arts. Tomorrow, each kid will do a subtest, then we'll take a break, and each kid will do another. Then wed only one again, due to martail arts, and we'll finish up on thursday. I know some people who take 2 weeks to finish it, so the kids dont stress out so much.

squiremouse
06-06-2011, 05:17 PM
I think it wasn't that difficult of a test BUT it matters if you hae covered the material. My son took it in 1st grade and only got 1 wrong (I am fairly sure he just didn't read the problem all the way through) but for a month before we spent time working though a test prep booklet since he had never taken a test before in his life.

My daughter has never taken CAT but we just enrolled her in school and using the tests for the MD benchmarks, she didn't do very well. If I had known ahead of time that she wanted to be enrolled we would have done a test prep book so she could learn how to take a test (she had never taken anything other than a Latin test before in her life). The majority of the problems she got wrong were because she didn't know how to test and/or they used different words for things she knew. (a side rant- what the heck is the point in calling it a number sentence or using "flip, move, turn" instead of using adult terms like equasion or "rotate, reverse, transpose" So the kids have to relearn what to call things as adults to not look stupid? Dumbing down I tell you-- Rant over)

Could the test have used words that kiddo is not use to? Maybe he was over thinking the question instead of taking it at face value (a common problem with creative types)? Has he learned how to do all the material on the test?

And of course- some people just don't test well.

Mia

Ariadne
06-06-2011, 05:43 PM
My daughter, who took the 3rd grade CAT, just forgot all the most basic stuff. She has been doing 4th grade LA this year, and yet she forgot all sorts of things like putting a comma in the date and after the salutation of a letter, both of which have been covered extensively in this house.

My oldest son made mistakes on things he hadn't seen, yes, but mostly on things he couldn't remember. The only part of the entire test that he missed and I understood why was one section of the reading comprehension where he was asked to make value judgments about the text, not look for facts. Since he has an ASD I wasn't the slightest bit surprised about that.

At least my 1st grader did well. I gave him the SECOND grade test and he only missed one on the entire thing.

dbmamaz
06-06-2011, 06:22 PM
btw, I did look over the tests 2 weeks ago and do a quick review of things on the test that I wasnt sure they knew.

Ariadne
06-06-2011, 06:39 PM
btw, I did look over the tests 2 weeks ago and do a quick review of things on the test that I wasnt sure they knew.I wish I had done that. It felt like cheating.

I was stupid.

EKS
06-06-2011, 07:47 PM
It felt like cheating.

It felt like cheating because it *is* cheating. General test prep is ok, but looking at the test and then specifically targeting instruction based upon what is on the test is unethical.

Eileen
06-06-2011, 07:54 PM
It felt like cheating because it *is* cheating. General test prep is ok, but looking at the test and then specifically targeting instruction based upon what is on the test is unethical.

And aside from that, what's the point? If you're just giving the test as a yardstick of how your kids are doing and what they actually know, then teaching to the test won't give you the information you're looking for.

Ariadne
06-06-2011, 09:02 PM
And aside from that, what's the point? If you're just giving the test as a yardstick of how your kids are doing and what they actually know, then teaching to the test won't give you the information you're looking for.Well that's how I saw it. If I'm trying to assess what my kids actually remember, then I should give it to them blind.

That, however, doesn't take into account the kind of silly forgetfulness that often attends nervous test-taking. :shrug

dbmamaz
06-06-2011, 09:09 PM
Ok, first of all, the purpose of this test is only to fulfil the homeschool requirements. If i'm teaching things in a different order than the school district, I dont think its unreasonable to look at the test and do a quick once-over on subjects which we didnt cover. I posted earlier that punctuation and capitalization is on the test, but not covered by T4L until 3rd grade. So we did 2 random worksheets on punctuation last week, just to familiarize him with the concepts.

The teachers in the school districts know what is on the test, teach to the test all year, and spend the last 2 weeks before the test reviewing things on the test. I dont see how what I did is significantly different. I wasnt reviewing specific questions or anything. You CAN buy a test prep book - i would have done the exact same thing when I saw there was a section on punctuation - i would have gone over punctuation.

This isnt for a grade - its just to meet the state requirements. But also, I dont want my kids to be tremendously upset because something they've never seen before is on the test.

Ariadne
06-06-2011, 09:18 PM
I dont want my kids to be tremendously upset because something they've never seen before is on the test.You have a son with special needs, too, right? I most regret not "pre-teaching" a bit with my 12yo.

EKS
06-06-2011, 11:01 PM
Ok, first of all, the purpose of this test is only to fulfil the homeschool requirements. If i'm teaching things in a different order than the school district, I dont think its unreasonable to look at the test and do a quick once-over on subjects which we didnt cover. I posted earlier that punctuation and capitalization is on the test, but not covered by T4L until 3rd grade. So we did 2 random worksheets on punctuation last week, just to familiarize him with the concepts.

The teachers in the school districts know what is on the test, teach to the test all year, and spend the last 2 weeks before the test reviewing things on the test. I dont see how what I did is significantly different. I wasnt reviewing specific questions or anything. You CAN buy a test prep book - i would have done the exact same thing when I saw there was a section on punctuation - i would have gone over punctuation.

This isnt for a grade - its just to meet the state requirements. But also, I dont want my kids to be tremendously upset because something they've never seen before is on the test.

A few things.

First, the homeschool requirements are there for a reason. The idea is to make sure the homeschooled kid is on track and a test is an easy way to do that. If homeschoolers routinely teach to the test, at a minimum our ability to give standardized tests at home will be curtailed, and I would hate to see that happen because I learn so much about my kids' learning by being able to look through their tests carefully and observe them take them.

Second, regardless of what teachers do in public school, the group whose scores were used to create the norms did *not* have teachers teaching to the test. So the argument that "everyone" does it doesn't fly. Those students whose teachers teach to the test will have artificially high scores, period.

Third, you're right, it isn't for a grade, but there *is* a correlation between doing well on these sorts of tests and being well educated.

Ariadne
06-07-2011, 12:08 AM
Third, you're right, it isn't for a grade, but there *is* a correlation between doing well on these sorts of tests and being well educated.What do you base this upon? Just curious.

dbmamaz
06-07-2011, 12:17 AM
So If I had paid for a review booklet, and the review booklet showed that there was a big section on punctuation, and i had used the review booklet to study punctuation with my child, THAT would not be cheating, but if I glanced over the test with my own eyes, and then reviewed the punctuation with my child, that IS cheating? Wow, you obviously need to teach me some things about ethics.

OrganicFrmGrl
06-07-2011, 09:41 AM
Well, I just got back my sons test results and it didn't tell me anything I didn't already know. He did excellent in math and needs some improvement on reading vocabulary and spelling. I can't stress again like i did this year, it was our first. I have to realize that I already know what he needs extra help in. As long as we are working hard and I see progress, he should do find. I will of course have to re-read this when it is test time next year.

Now, about looking at the test or not well, I don't have a choice. In WV I can't admin the test, I have to have a non family member admin. The test is mailed to that person. I don't really know what was on it. But, I guess it all worked out.

Chloƫ Field
06-07-2011, 12:31 PM
You have a son with special needs, too, right? I most regret not "pre-teaching" a bit with my 12yo.

I'm new to this thread, but do you know how much 'help' they give kids with special needs in schools? They'll read it, fill in the bubbles, give them extra time and yep, I'm pretty sure they teach to the test ;-).

dbmamaz
06-07-2011, 03:43 PM
I have to say - the kids who were the first batch using the test, and set the 'norms' - the test was BASED on their state curriculum. So of course they taught to the test - the test was written specifically for what they taught.

Also, if I'd been 'cheating' - I would have noticed that a significant portion of the questions covered the idea that every word in a title gets capitalized. I only looked for general capitalization and punctuation resources on the web, and none of them covered that, so he got all those questions wrong.

Interestingly, my older son, with the dx's, never had any specail testing support other than a quiet room - and even that backfired on us. The teacher who was proctoring insisted that he let her read each question to him and would not let him work through the test at his own pace. He was a total crying mess by the end of it

Today, however, I was able to get both boys to work together at the same time - something I havent been able to do before. So that was really exciting!

EKS
06-07-2011, 03:49 PM
For those here who are interested in how standardized tests are developed and what they do and do not measure, I highly recommend the book Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us by Daniel Koretz.

SolsticeDreamer
06-07-2011, 03:56 PM
I used the TerraNova 3 this year; in the past I've used the Stanford. I thought the CAT was being phased out in favor of the TerraNova??? I'm not big into testing, but I do it - not every year - and I find it informative although I can't say I've ever been surprised by the results. I wouldn't get too distraught over one test score. If it were a pattern over several years, then I would be looking at it more closely.

Anyway, just another thought I had when I read your mil didn't support you in homeschooling: in our house test scores never leave our house, ever. Those are private, only for us. I will not have anyone basing a judgment on my homeschooling off of test scores, positive or negative. Actually, even if my children were in school, I wouldn't be sharing test scores with family/friends.

I think testing is a two edged sword. I could get overly worried by some low scores, and at the same time, I could become complacent (or develop a big ego) over high scores. It's a tool, that's all.

Pefa
06-07-2011, 06:16 PM
And then there are kids like my older two, who did fine on the tests that mattered to them - the SAT, several AP exams, the GED, various EMT exams, but totally blew off the state mandated testing. They and their friends freely admitted that they were filling in the bubbles at random. Which sucks for the school district (although the HS they went has an Ivy league college admission rate and college admission rate in general is above the state norm) but made sense to me.