When you take your child in for CATS testing this year, you’ll be asked to sign a pledge indicating that your child has not received any tutoring for the test. If it becomes clear that your child has been prepped for the CATS, he’s at risk for having his scores, and, therefore, his application, disqualified from the application process.
So what’s all the ruckus about, you say? Well, let me explain. Tests you may be familiar with, like the ERB, ITBS, STAAR, or Stanford Achievement Test, all measure skills and knowledge that are learned at a particular grade level. Kids learn information through classroom instruction. The CATS evaluation, though, doesn’t measure achievement. Instead, it measures intellectual aptitude or potential. The testing is designed to measure a variety of mental functions, like reasoning, comprehension, and judgment. And for that, there is no prep.
3 Reasons Not to Prep for the CATS Evaluation…
1. The CATS testing is presumed to be a ‘novel’ experience. The premise of cognitive testing is that the test taker has not had any prior exposure to the test materials. A child’s response to this novel material is indicative of their level of intellectual functioning. If a child is familiar with the test materials prior to testing, then the essence of the test is undermined, and the scores are invalid.
2. A trained examiner knows when a child has been prepped. As someone who spent years performing psychological assessments, I can tell you that it’s obvious when kids have seen test materials in advance. If you believe you can have your child tutored, sign the ‘no-prep’ pledge, and your child won’t be found out…think again.
3. Prepping hurts the process, but most of all hurts your child. I understand the desire to have your child attend a top school, but what I want to suggest is that your mission be to have your child at the best school for him. Here’s the difference in a nutshell..
Let’s say your child preps for the CATS, earns a high (but artificially inflated) score, and is admitted into a top school. To a greater or lesser degree, this may be what you have to look forward to: tutors, frustration, negative feedback, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, frustration, low or failing grades, depression, and an eventual move to a school in line with your child’s real potential.
The other side of the coin… Your child attends a school that’s a good fit for his abilities. He is challenged, works hard, makes A’s & B’s in some (or all) subjects, feels good about himself, is excited to stretch himself with an honors class or challenging extracurricular activity, experiences and manages the up’s and down’s of childhood, and graduates with the confidence, self-knowledge, and a strong work ethic.
My suggestion is this; don’t prep. Let your child be who he is and trust that by enrolling him in a school that fits his intellectual profile, he will learn what he needs to know to be successful in life.
…my next post will be ‘when it’s OK to prep’…
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