The Eleven Plus examination is designed to find children who would benefit from a grammar school education. The difficulty of the examination is attributable to a number of factors:
The nature of the questions
The severity of marking
The time allowed
If the questions in the examination are hard, then the value in passing is enhanced. In other words we expect the eleven plus examination to be difficult to all but the brightest. When children achieve full marks on an Eleven Plus examination we know that we are discussing seriously able children.
There will be some children entering grammar school this year who will, however, have `scraped’ through the examination. This does not, however, mean that these children will not go on to do extremely well within the grammar school environment. Hard work, love of learning and old fashioned dedication will all play a part in the school career of a grammar school child.
In many eleven plus areas parents are simply offered a pass or fail situation. This is good enough for most. Parents and children are offered the marks but are not usually presented with the information about how many other children achieved similar scores. Eleven plus examiners, however, are not obliged to report the results with any degree of precision.
In education we often grade results with the letters A, B, C, D and E. If we assume that A is better than B which in turn is better than C, then an E grade will show the lowest scores. In Eleven Plus examinations we do not need the grades to stretch over the whole spectrum of children who sat the examination. The grades only need to cover the children who have passed. Thus an `A’ grade means a very good candidate. An `E’ grade does not then mean a failure – but suggests a child who has just passed the examination.
The percentage of marks attributed to each Eleven Plus grade could be completely arbitrary. If, however, an A grade was designed to describe the top ten per cent of children, and the E grade the ten percent of children who `just’ passed, then there is no need for the candidates at levels B, C and D to know their grades.
Never the less some parents may find it very helpful to know that their child passed with a score of 129 – and that that was a `C’ grade.
If we had this additional information about grades, and could use it for helping the examination to improve and develop, then there could be some point in adding extra pass levels. After all, an examination that has been around for many years must need a strong degree of introspection and re-evaluation.