The eleven plus examinations are designed to select children for entry to grammar schools. The remit of the examination does not need to include differentiating scores between children in the lower twenty five percent – but does need to be reasonably accurate with establishing the ability of children in upper twenty five percent.
Verbal reasoning tests in their present eleven plus form rely heavily of good reading skills. These could include the ability to read and recognise a word, good comprehension skills and a sound reading vocabulary. Children entering the eleven plus links with a can’t read and won’t read mentality are disadvantaged.
We have, on occasion, met children working towards the eleven plus examination with gross discrepancies in reading ages in the order of a year and a half. There could be many factors in mitigation – but essentially a child preparing for the eleven plus need to be able to read well.
To find test items that can select the top children in a competitive selection test the constructors of the test first of all have to try out a number of items with various groups of children.
The eleven plus test has to take into consideration the popularity of items with children, fatigue, practicability and ease of administration. After all if the items in the test cause stress or concern in children it is evident that they should not be included.
Once the items, the length and durability of the test have been established it is then checked against other tests of ability. The reliability of the test also has to be checked. As well as parental concerns the grammar schools also need to know that they are being offered children who have tested effectively and efficiently.