When CAT4 was published in 2012, included in the Teacher Guidance Pack was a short overview of research into the effects of English language acquisition on students’ learning. This was set alongside a case study with references in detail to contrasting CAT4 scores from three different students with English as an additional language. This current publication is an attempt to update and extend this overview and give more contextualised information through additional cases of good practice showing how standardised assessments can be used to support students with English as an additional language in different settings and for different purposes.

Part of the CAT4 advice was about the length of time students had been acquiring English and possible testing exemptions or adaptations. From the cases above, we can see that repeating assessment or selecting particular assessments, such as the BPVS, are more likely scenarios in many schools. This is not because students with English as an additional language are not a priority; quite the opposite. There is a realisation that appropriate choice of assessment and careful interpretation of results can support these and every student in school.

Parts of CAT4 that are not language-dependent can have a real impact on students with English as an additional language, helping their teachers understand their reasoning skills in three of the four most important areas for academic success. Some of the advice offered with CAT4 is still relevant. Some implications of testing with CAT4 and other GL Assessment tests still stand, they are as follows.

  • Reliability of indicators – these are likely to be an underestimate of eventual attainment, particularly in CAT4 if the Verbal Reasoning tests have been included. (Repeat testing and regular re-evaluation of outcomes as carried out by Park City is the way to overcome this.)
  • The Non-Verbal Reasoning tests in CAT4 require the combining of verbal and visual thought processes where the student will use their own ‘inner voice’ to reason through the task. This is true also, although to a lesser extent, of the Quantitative Reasoning tests. The outcomes from these tests will be especially useful when supporting students for whom English is an additional language.
  • For many of GL Assessment’s tests, administration instructions may be translated into the student’s first language. This can include example and practice questions (apart from those testing English or reading) so that the conceptual and practical requirements of the questions are clear.

Finally, grateful thanks are due to Professor Leung, Nandhaka Peiris, Nicola Lambros, Christine Comber, Annette Thomas and the Deputy Headteacher from our final case study for giving their time and expertise to this guide.