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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Eleven Plus Intelligence

Spearman, back in 1904, wrote on `General Intelligence’.  He was writing well before the eleven plus emerged – but some of his observations seem to be relevant even today.

He felt that the first part of intelligence was to do with mental activity - as shown at school. He was concerned with the relationship between subjects.  The eleven plus also revolves round examining a relatively narrow field of reasoning ability.

Then Spearman was concerned with school order. He looked at the difference between a child’s rank at school and the child’s age. He was concerned with absolute rather than relative differences. A boy who was 20th in the examination and 22nd by age would be placed just above one who was 15th in the examination and 16th by age. The former was two better than the latter who was only one better. If eleven plus parents think that this is unfair – then listen to some eleven plus stories!

The third kind of intelligence was to do with the general impression produced upon people. Teachers, for example, used to classify children as being `bright’, `average’ and `dull’. No politically correct teacher would dare to go down this route today. Would, however, opinions of grandparents be excluded?

The fourth and last sort of intelligence was to do what is known as `common sense’. Does an examination candidate really need to be able to have common sense? A child with oodles of common sense would probably do very well in an eleven plus examination!

What Spearman did was enter all the results into a great and complex equation. He tried to eliminate irrelevant factors. In the end Spearman wondered if there was something like a General Sensory Discrimination and a General Intelligence. He thought that there was common fundamental function which unified intelligence.

In the end, way back in 904, he felt that measuring mental activity depended on:

The accuracy with which a test can be conducted
The rank of the test
The rank of the intellectual duties within the test.

Eleven plus children and their parents want and need:

A fair test
To know which test result is more important
To understand exactly what the test was measuring.

Nothing much changes in time does it?