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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Eleven Plus Examination

It is very hard for parents to work out just how effective the eleven plus examination is at selecting the right children for grammar school. Parents can judge just about everything else but they can not judge effectiveness of the actual examination.

The results of the eleven plus are most often offered to parents in the form of pass and fail. Sometimes some parents are told the rank order of their children – but for the most parents have to believe in the veracity and integrity of the examination.

The eleven plus examination exists in many forms. Some, for example, require mathematics, others don’t. Essentially the examination is trying to find children who would benefit from a grammar school education. A successful eleven plus examination would be one that produced good results - with selected children enjoying a successful grammar school career.

The eleven plus would not be a good examination if all it did was test how well children had committed facts to memory. It would also be a poor examination if gave too much away in the question. The eleven plus examination would only be really effective if it produced results that were in line with the purpose of the examination.

Some opponents of the eleven plus examination feel that while the eleven plus might be an effective examination in selecting children – the actual idea of the examination is not sound. This argument could be justified on moral grounds – in that part of the design of examination was to find poor children who were bright. There is also a political argument against the eleven plus – a Labour government swept away most of the grammar school – but no recent government has had either the courage or the will to challenge the place of grammar schools in society.

An eleven plus examination that went against the will of the majority of the people would be indefensible. It is likely, however, that there would be some considerable outcry if a future government decided to abolish the remaining grammar schools.

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