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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Challenges to the Eleven PLus

A reasoning score, be it verbal or non verbal reasoning, gives an immediate and concise piece of information. This must be one major reason why reasoning scores are used in so many eleven plus examinations.

To sum up the whole of a child’s academic potential in a single score does, however, need to be treated with some degree of caution. The eleven plus test are supposed to be predictive – in that the results are used to say which children should benefit from a grammar school education. It would be interesting to read studies that confirm the effectiveness of the present tests.

The whole area of mental measurement is infinitely complex. Some of us may occasionally find the final test results very frustrating. The validity and fairness of the present eleven plus tests can not, at present, be challenged by parents. In the eyes of many there is not viable alternative.

Many years ago a Frenchman called Binet used a series of tests to identify mentally handicapped children. This lead to the development of other intelligence tests – and then to the widespread application of tests in schools. The reasoning tests used in the eleven plus are standardised, reliable and valid.

There does not, however, appear to be any appetite for questioning the validity of the tests. The stability of the tests is unquestioned – as they have been used effectively in their present form for many years.

The world, however, has moved on considerably in the past few years with the impact of the internet and social networking. Teaching in schools is being challenged on a daily basis. Children are taught with whiteboards and through on line lessons. Perhaps children being educated in today’s world need a different kind of ability test that is more suited to the world they will meet in another six years time.

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