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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Thinking Inside The Eleven Plus Box

There are new forms of eleven plus testing being developed. In the past tests of intelligence suggested a normal distribution of intelligence in the general population. This suggested a few high scores, a few low scores and most of the scores clustered around the average or `mean’.

The argument at the basis of the normal curve of intelligence is that because factors like height and weight follow a normal curve of distribution then so should ability follow a similar curve. Does a normal distribution of shoe size also count. Could it be that tests of ability are designed to produce a normal curve of distribution? Could even the new eleven plus tests be manipulated in such a way that a normal curve of distribution is reached to the satisfaction of the test builders?

Some of the new style eleven plus tests look at aspects of verbal and non-verbal ability, comprehension and numerical reasoning. If the provenance, however, of the new eleven plus tests was tested against the old style tests then is it likely that the veracity of new tests is also flawed?

Wiseman of Manchester University back in 1962 maintained, however, that a selector did not need to be concerned with any hypothetical ability. He maintained that as long as the eleven plus test selected children who were able to benefit from a grammar school education then the test was worth using.

If the eleven plus tests are trying to test the potential of children only at the top end of the ability scales – then do test authors need to consider the ability of children at the lower end?

There was a theory that was floated at odd times that it may be easier on the emotions of eleven plus parents and children if a rectangular system of selection was adopted. All those children who fitted into the box could pass. If you were not in the box you could not pass! This, in theory, should cut down on the number of children in the borderline zone.

Was this the origin of the phrase: `thinking outside the box’? Do eleven plus parents, however, interpret this as: `thinking inside the box’?