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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Eleven Plus Tests

Who makes the final decisions on what kind of test there should be and what use should be made of test results?

Working through the steps involved it probably first of all takes some experts in tests and measurements to work out what sort of tests are needed. Then our political leaders make decisions based on information provided by experts. Finally it is the, the public at large, who vote the politicians into power. The actual people who take eleven plus tests, the children, are not involved in any decision making.

We are often told that standardising test scores makes it fair for everyone. But this is not necessarily so. A child could be `zoned’ for one set of grammar schools and thus gain entry with one set of entrance criteria but another child, in a different area, could be faced with different tests and different entrance standards.

This means that an able child could pass an entrance or selection test and gain entry into one grammar school but fail the entrance examination to another school because the contents of the two tests are different. So it is not `same for everyone’.

If you have a driving test on one day in one town – and then take the test on another day in a different town - you would hope that the driving test examiners would look for broadly similar strengths and weaknesses. You could be just as good a driver on both days but yet fail one of the tests for reasons beyond your control. A long articulated lorry could break down on an intersection and cause a traffic condition that could upset the balance of your test. If you failed for one reason or another you could simply come back again and retake the test. Not so with the eleven plus.

The only way to make a completely fair `level playing field’ would be for every school in the country to be as good academically as our present grammar schools.

This is where our children may be able to influence the future of tests, education, and grammar schools. In years to come the children who are writing the eleven plus examinations now will be voting for the politicians. It is these children who will have the power to force change. This is a very strong reason why we want our children to have the best possible education.

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