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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Style Eleven Plus Tests

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a new type of eleven plus test could be devised that attempted to eliminate the need for ten year old children to prepare endlessly?

The eleven plus can be approached by children learning facts, methods, rules, sequences and examination technique. Intelligent teachers and parents will try to discover the fifty key topics their child needs to know and understand. Other parents will opt for more subjects – and some will aim for fewer number. We all hope that if we offer children a range of carefully prepared work they will be able to use at least some in the examination.

It would be easy to ask bright children an open ended question like: “What are the advantages of working hard at school?” The answers they offer would, to a degree, be reasonably predictable – but some would be able to demonstrate fresh, imaginative and intuitive thinking. Would an examiner be able to mark work that did not appear on the list of expected topics?

If two examiners read the same set of answers separately – each knowing that the other was going to read and mark the same answers then it is possible that the examiners may be a little more aware in their marking. A third colleague could be called in if there was any disagreement.

It is a lot easier for eleven plus examiners to set a collection of multiple choice questions. Parents and teachers can then hope to rely on their child, or protégée, to demonstrate a finely honed spirit of competition. This then brings us back to: “Should eleven plus results rely on a relatively narrow set of questions?” Parents who could offer cogent and workable solutions could find their child being offered a place! (Provided two or more examiners agreed!)

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