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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Eleven Plus Parents

I was out for a little walk today. A car turned around the corner. The mother was driving with one hand. On her lap was a baby – and the mum was feeding the baby with a bottle. There was no safety harness that I could see because the baby was swaddled in a white blanket.

We must wonder if the baby will ever grow up to become an eleven plus candidate. We also must wonder too at the circumstances that forced the mother to take such a risk.

When a test is standardised every effort is made to build a control group with similar traits. The 2012 team is trying to find athletes who will be able to win medals. Tom Daly must have been a highly proficient diver when he was ten years old. It would have been almost impossible to find a boy or a similar age, height and athletic ability that Tom can be compared with. It must have been easier to find a boy of similar age, height and mathematical ability.

In the process of standardisation it must be possible to find reasonably common characteristics in each group. We may, however, find more than one child with similar common characteristics. If there were twice as many cases of children with common characteristics then all that needs to happen is that a ratio of 2 : 1 is established. Naturally the excess matches can be discarded.

For all sorts of reasons it may prove very difficult to find exact matches for the little baby who was being fed while the mother was driving. But, thank goodness, it is children who are tested for the eleven plus – not parents.

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