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A deeper understanding of pupil needs PDF - GL Assessment

case study

Using standardised tests to provide a

deeper understanding of pupil needs

Seoul Foreign School

explains why it uses a

range of GL Assessment's

online tests to ensure that

ever child meets their

potential, right from the

moment they join the


Seoul Foreign School has an outstanding

reputation among the English speaking

business and diplomatic community in

Korea. Like many international schools

around the globe, it sees a high turnover of

students from year to year. In order to

maintain their high standards, the British

and high school divisions of the school use

GL Assessment’s evaluations of pupils’

abilities to ensure that every child meets its

potential – right from the start.

Seoul Foreign School welcomes over 1,500

students from over 50 countries and has

been ‘Inspiring Excellence and Building

Character’ since 1912. However, like many

international schools, very few children stay

for their entire school career. In fact, around

20% of pupils change each year.

In order to maintain its high standards and

continue to meet parents’ high

expectations, the school uses a range of

tests from GL Assessment to immediately

understand a new child’s ability, regardless

of their first language or the curriculum they

have been following previously .

“We can actually start evaluating children

using GL Assessment’s Progress in English

and Progress in Maths online assessments

before the students even arrive at the

school,” says Damian Prest, deputy head of

the British Division of the school.

“This is not an admittance test, it is a way

for us to see what level of English and

maths the child has, so that we are

prepared to welcome them and meet their

needs. Because the assessment is online, it

doesn’t matter which country they are

joining us from. The new pupil can take the

test before they leave their current home

and we can see the results straight away.”

The school uses Progress in Maths (PiM)

and Progress in English (PiE) testing in Key

Stages 1, 2 and 3 – prior to the IGCSE and

IB Diploma. It also uses GL Assessment’s

Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT) in an online

digital format for students entering its high

school. CAT Digital measures the three

main areas of reasoning – verbal, non-verbal

and quantitative, together with an element

of spatial ability.

“We use CAT Digital to place the children

appropriately into subject courses. It covers

maths and literacy and it is a great tool for

finding out what learning style students are

particularly drawn to,” says Ruth Sanderson,

IGCSE coordinator for Grades 9 and 10.

GL Assessment is a leading provider of assessment solutions for children’s education, mental

health and wellbeing. GL Assessment is a division of the Granada Learning Group alongside

GL Performance, a leading provider of management tools and resources that are designed to

maximise the impact of self-evaluation, school development planning and school improvement.

case study

PiE and PiM

The school has been using the online

versions of PiE and PiM for the past four

years. “It gives teachers a once a year

snapshot of where the children are and

provides them with reassurance if their

assessment of the pupil lines up with the

test results,” says Damian Prest.

“We tend to run the test in the second half

of the year because Christmas is our peak

in pupil turnover. We can lose up to 60

children from one year and gain as many

again. So, we tend to wait until that has

settled down before assessing progress.”

Damian and his team use the tests to look

out for students who are over-performing or

under-performing. “If we find students are

gifted at maths, then we are able to make

sure that their needs are met. If they are

not being stretched or challenged in class, it

doesn’t do anyone any good,” he says.

“If children are under-performing, then we

have a learning support programme that

can help. Sometimes language can be a

problem. The main thing is that we talk to

the classroom teacher and find out how

they normally perform in class. We can see

whether the test results correlate. With

small children especially, there is always the

possibility that something could have

happened in the playground just before the

test that affected their results. But if the

test backs up the teacher’s assessment

then it is further data we can use to help

the child.”

“The great thing about the digital versions

of the tests is that you can get instant

analysis of results. The school can see what

areas the children have fully understood and

where they may need more support as we

can look at the class and individual

performance question by question,” says


The PiE test examines a student’s

comprehension of English as well as their

ability to read. This is particularly useful in

such an international context with so many

languages spoken. Sometimes a pupil can

read fluently, but their comprehension of

more complex text could be lacking.

“As a result, we have focussed more of our

efforts on reading for meaning,” says


The assessments also give Seoul Foreign

British School a comparative standard

score for students in the UK, so the

international school can see how their

students measure up. “It is great to have a

baseline comparison with the UK.”

Cognitive AbilitiesTest

Ruth Sanderson, IGCSE coordinator at

Seoul Foreign High School, and her team

run the CAT test in April and August. It

helps them to back up their decisions on

where to place the students within the

grade level.

“I would recommend

GL Assessment’s digital

tests to other international

schools. In fact, I already


“We have three different streams for

maths, one accelerated, one extended over

two years and another core level offering a

simpler curriculum,” she says. “The

accelerated course is fairly stretching. A lot

of students get additional help after school

as parents want them to do well and get in

the top sets. As teachers, however, we

need to be clear that the students we put

in that group are able to progress.”

“CAT helps back up the teachers’ own

assessments so we put the child in the

right stream.”

In most cases, the test confirms what the

teacher expected about the children in the

class. “It is great to have another piece of

evidence to support our own thoughts,”

says Ruth. “Where it does add a lot of

value is for borderline students. We may

find the test reveals that they are capable of

achieving better grades. In this case, we

would feel more confident in putting them

in a higher group.”

CAT Digital is also providing the school with

an extra insight into how pupils like to learn,

which Ruth hopes to put to good use in the

future. “We are going to produce a scatter

graph of the children’s learning styles for

each class,” she says. “A lot of our students

can learn in any way. But there are a few

that are weaker in some ways, for example,

they are not so good at auditory or visual

learning. So we can take that into

consideration from the start rather than

taking a couple of months to learn that

about them,” she says.

Both Ruth and Damian have been users of

GL Assessment’s standardised tests for

some time and back wholeheartedly the

move to an online format. “We get

immediate results,” says Damian. “This

means our teachers don’t have piles of tests

to mark and they can start using the data

right away. I would have no problem

recommending the digital format to other

international schools. In fact, I already have.”


• Allows the school to immediately

assess a new child’s ability,

regardless of their first language or

the curriculum they have previously

been following – even before they


• Shows the teachers where cultural

or language differences may hamper

learning and what areas may need

more work

• Helps children be quickly placed in

the correct stream

• Gives immediate results, saving

teachers time

October 2011

For further information, please contact Danielle Morgan:

GL Assessment, 9th Floor East, 389 Chiswick High Road, London W4 4AL

Tel: 0208 996 3632 Email:

GL Assessment is a division of the Granada Learning Group


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