Monday, October 6, 2014

Goodbye NNAT, Hello CogAT!

Just when you thought you knew everything there was to know about HISD requirements to qualify your child for gifted and talented programs...
...they change the tests!

The CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) will now replace the NNAT (Naglieri) and later this spring, the IOWA will replace the Stanford. No need to panic, however! Raising the Bar has you covered! Want to know more? Read on. . .

Goodbye NNAT, Hello CogAT

SAT, STAAR, AP, IB, PTO. . . the world of education is filled with some fairly familiar acronyms. One acronym, however, may not be so familiar: CogAT. It stands for Cognitive Abilities Test, a test that might play an important role in your student's academic life, especially if your child attends an HISD school. Let us help break down the basics of the CogAT.

In a nutshell, what is the CogAT?

The CogAT is a test commonly used for identification of students for Gifted and Talented programs and is a grade-level specific assessment of verbal, quantitative, and spatial reasoning and problem-solving ability.

What types of questions are on the test?

While there is a total of three cognitive areas assessed (verbal, quantitative, and nonverbal), the nonverbal section is used predominantly for GT testing.  This section includes three subtests that assess students' inductive and deductive reasoning and visualization skills:

Figure Analogies (or Matrices) -   This subtest presents a pair of figures and students are to determine the common factor between them. A third figure is given. Students select a figure from a set of answer choices that represents the same kind of relationship that exists between the original pair of figures presented.

Figure Classification - This subtest presents three figures. The student must identify the characteristics that the figures share in common, then select another figure from a set of figures that matches the original set.

Figure Analysis - This subtest presents a series of diagrams that show a piece of paper being folded and hole-punched. The student must select a figure from a set of figures that shows what the paper will look like when it is unfolded.

Where is it administered & how long does it take?

It is administered at the child's school and students are given 30 minutes to complete anywhere from 38 to 60 questions, depending on the grade level of the student.

Who takes it and why?

Many schools use this assessment as a part of GT identification. In Houston ISD, all kindergartners and 5th graders take the CogAT in the fall. This year it will be administered the 3rd week in November.

How is it used?

In Houston ISD it is used as one piece of the GT identification "pie."  The results are used along with those from the Stanford Test (which will be replaced with the IOWA test this year), report card average, and a parent or teacher recommendation to determine if the student qualifies for GT services.

How can parents learn more?

Parents can visit the official CogAT website to learn more.

 Offical CogAT Website

Why should kids prepare?

There are many reasons that students should prepare for the CogAT. Although facts and figures cannot be memorized for this test in the way that they can for other types of tests, there are other ways students can get ready. Students are not typically explicitly taught the skills tested on the CogAT, so the test format may catch unprepared students off-guard. Students who are more familiar with the components and format of the test will not be taken by surprise, so they will be more comfortable overall with the test-taking experience. Additionally, familiarity with the types of questions asked can also help students navigate the CogAT successfully.

Are there any other activities that can help prepare kids for the CogAT?

There are many activities kids can do at home that help to increase their spatial intelligence including:

Jigsaw Puzzles
Constructing Models

Just to name a few!

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