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Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Fairness of the Eleven PLus

Parents must sometimes wish that they had a little more information about the eleven plus test results. We have to take for granted that the interpretation of the test results is fair to all children.

It would be very useful for an up to date study on the factors influencing eleven plus test performance and test scores. It would be very unfair to reject a child if the test was not administered properly. Would it be equally unfair if one child could not read as well as another?

The person who administers the test, the school policy towards the eleven plus and the condition that the tests are taken in are some variables that can affect test scores. It is not a primary goal in some schools to prepare children for the eleven plus. A bright child could miss out on a grammar school education by simply being in the wrong class with the wrong teacher. In other classes good eleven plus test results may appear to be almost an end in itself. Some may be able to argue, with conviction, that a good test result may provide a poor general education.

Parents of bright eleven plus children may sometimes wonder if less able children are receiving more attention. Some schools may have a higher percentage of special needs children. We also hear of schools that weed out children they do not think will pass the eleven plus to try to ensure as high an eleven plus pass mark as possible.

Is it fair on other children if a skilful eleven plus teacher is able to teach to the test? Some children could benefit from the teacher’s expertise and thus obtain artificially high scores. Is it then questionable practice to teach just the items that will come up in the test?

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