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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Eleven Plus Pass

The term `I.Q. has probably entered the conversation of a number of eleven plus mothers and fathers over the years. The term is not a new one. The journey to today started with Alfred Binet, a Frenchman, back in 1904 who published the first intelligence test. His work was taken further by Terman, an American, who translated Binet’s work and published The Measurement of Intelligence in 1916. A German, Stern, suggested in 1912 that the Intelligence Quotient could be calculated by dividing the child’s mental age by his chronological age.

Terman adopted the idea and the abbreviation I.Q. was accepted. A mental age of 8 years 3 months and a chronological age of 8 years three months suggested around average ability.

For those of us who left the eleven year old years behind some time ago, one early psychologist found that the greatest difference in mental ability between younger and older persons lies in speed rather than accuracy. “Don’t rush grand dad, he will get there in the end.”

The psychologist of yesteryear also found that children from better homes gained many points. No surprise there!

Today we see intelligence tests quite differently. Yet selection at the Eleven Plus stage is somewhat based on tests devised fifty years ago. A good score on a verbal reasoning test does measure some for of mental alertness. A good score on a verbal reasoning test does not take into account:

Special aptitudes
Social Adjustment

If a child does well on a verbal reasoning test does it mean that he or she will be a better doctor or a surgeon?

What about honesty or persistence?

We know that a good score on a verbal reasoning test is supposed to be able to predict future academic success – otherwise why would the good and learned in the grammar schools rely on verbal reasoning results?

Could we expect bright eleven plus children to?

Show an interest in solving problems
Enjoy lots of mental energy
Demonstrate a mature use of language.

Essentially we would all like our children to be healthy, physically able and socially adjusted.

The must be an argument, somewhere, that a pleasant, hardworking and attractive child, with a verbal reasoning score of 117 should be welcomed by a grammar school over a sulky, rude and bad tempered child with a score of 118?

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