## Sunday, June 12, 2011

### The Chances of Passing The Eleven Plus

Do you remember the story of the father who maintained that his children could do arithmetic until they went to school? We hope that he was talking about his children having the opportunity to develop sensible and lasting concepts. Some would call this incidental learning – and some eleven plus children must rely on much of their incidental learning as they work their way through exercises and papers.

Some eleven plus children still seem to count aloud as they work their way through some tables and number bonds. Some maintain this approach to mental number work – and often add fingers and thumbs to the mix. Very few children would be able to resist a sigh of satisfaction after starting with 5 times 9 and ending up with 8 times 9 = 72.

An eleven plus teacher has to try to arrange educational situations to bring about desired responses. The rate, progress and limits of improvement have to be taken into account in lessons and exercises.

Many eleven plus exercises seem to involve a problem being presented, a tentative hypothesis being proposed and then the accuracy of the multiple choice answer has to be predicted. Unfortunately for some children the eleven plus examination does not cater for children who want to slavishly follow laws and regulations. Some children actually have to think!

Tests are valuable tools in grading human endeavour. Eleven plus tests try to lump children into groups – the children who pass, those who fail and those who `nearly’ pass.

How likely is your child to pass? This may be a difficult question for some. We know that the eleven plus is based on the normal curve of distribution – with all the talk of Standardised Scores and pass rates. But what about the laws of chance? What happens if there are ten children on the `short’ waiting list?

If ten coins are tossed 1024 times and the heads counted, we may get a similar table. The first column looks at the `Number of Heads’ and the second the `Frequency of Occurrences’

0 1
1 10
2 45
3 120
4 210
5 252
6 210
7 120
8 45
9 10
10 1
Does this help to build your confidence in you child’s chances of passing an appeal?