Identifying Academic Needs and Strategies for Intervention


  • Combination reports are key to identifying academic ‘dips’ in learning 
  • Using learning bias from CAT4 supports the creation of targeted learning interventions 
  • Data driven dialogues support the formulation of purposeful next steps for individual learners

Iain Hope, the Deputy Head of Primary at the British School Jakarta, explains how a school can use a combination of data from the Progress Test Series® (PT Series) and Cognitive Abilities Test® (CAT4) both on entry and on a regular basis in school to identify specific needs or ‘dips’ in academic progress, and from this, formulate strategies for intervention. 

Assessment data should be used to inform learning at all points in the learning cycle. On entry to the school, both CAT4 and the Progress Test Series are used to assess children’s needs and potential learning outcomes. This is then supported with regular use of the PT Series to monitor children’s learning to track their attainment against expected progress in school.

Assessment data must be fed back into the cycle to improve learning.

The Learning Cycle: assessment for teaching

Within the learning cycle, CAT4 and PT Series data give us clues for possible intervention needs. Doing this on entry allows support services to be targeted to individual learners as they arrive in school. 

From point of admission CAT4 can be used to identify English as an Additional Language needs (EAL)/Individual Needs (IN) through analysis of verbal deficits (possible EAL indicator) and non-verbal standard age scores (SAS) (possible IN indicator).

Excerpt of CAT4 data used to identify possible IN/EAL support needs

CAT4 student profiles can also be used to identify extreme bias in thinking (either spatial or verbal) and this, long with the learning advice given in CAT4 reports, can be used to adapt provision in the classroom.

Example of CAT4 student profiles for learning bias

Key elements of learning can also be identified using the process categories and curriculum content from the PT Series reports.

The Learning Cycle: assessment for review 

Once children are at the school, the PT Series and regular referrals back to CAT4 indicated outcomes allows identification of how a child is progressing as part of the review of the learning cycle. 

A comparison of learning outcomes from the Progress Test in Maths (PTM) and Progress Test in English (PTE) SAS and CAT4 SAS gives a trajectory or expected path for progress in attainment. This can be highlighted most effectively through the combination reports where CAT4 Verbal SAS is compared with PTE SAS to identify relative progress in reading.

And CAT4 Quantitative SAS is compared with PTM SAS to identify relative progress in mathematics.

Comparison of CAT4 and PT Series scores can then be used to identify children who need more support or to identify the ‘value added’ by the school to a child’s expected progress. 

Identifying needs and strategies for intervention 

Data driven dialogues are a key process for identifying needs in mixed teams and then year groups or departments. Teams then analyse data from combination reports and from internal formative assessment systems. These also emphasise  knowledge of the child; how they learn, and their pastoral needs that can affect learning. 

From here we can then look at ‘dips’ in the progress of children in their cohort or department and begin to formulate strategies to intervene to get the  children ‘back 
on track’. A team approach ensures all are aware of needs and share ideas and resources to support those most in need.

Example of identification and intervention: learning bias and knowledge of the child

One student had for over two years been identified as ‘underperforming’ in terms of their written work by teachers, but there was nothing to indicate this from the PT Series scores. Also, the child was on track according to their indicated outcomes from the Cognitive Abilities Test (carried out 3 years before). However, their writing performance in class seemed strongly at odds with their verbal abilities and attitude to learning. This had been flagged up to Learning Support, but  nothing indicated a strong need in comparison to others in the year group. 

When the student sat the new CAT4 assessments, the learning bias profile was anticipated with some interest. It was expected that perhaps the child had an extreme spatial bias as they were a strong artist and excelled in visually representing ideas. The report revealed that there was indeed a clear spatial bias. The teacher then worked with Learning Support and focused on creating presentations and resources orientated to the child’s spatial bias allowing the child to use images and symbols to represent ideas and reasoning. Also, the use of a device for presenting information through video or audio, as well as using the dictation function, allowed the child to more fully develop their ideas for writing. 

However, CAT4 had flagged up another issue: the child’s indicators for all areas had dropped and were now strongly at odds with how she operated in class. This was used by the teacher to get more detailed assessments from Learning Support. From this it was discovered that the child was affected by Irlens Syndrome – visual stress which resulted in written pages looking warped and making reading and writing much more difficult. Prescription of specific glasses would help correct this. The child is now making good progress and their results on assessments are expected to show excellent progress. 

Future Developments

The combination reports provide data that is easy to analyse and we intend to ensure that this, along with the learning bias data, are integrated better into our review process. This information, alongside our internal teacher assessments, will continue to inform our data driven dialogues and help us to continue to improve teaching and learning.


* The verbal deficit is calculated by subtracting the non-verbal SAS from the verbal SAS provided by CAT4.


Seeing himself as always a leader in development, Iain is now developing his leadership as Deputy Head of Primary at the British School Jakarta. Prior to this, Iain has held various leadership roles in a career that spans nearly 2 decades. He has led learning in the Far East, Middle East and the United Kingdom.