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 Post subject: bucks vr not a good test
PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:47 pm 
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Location: bucks
okay i want to make a case for how rubbish the current bucks 11+ is for choosing kids for grammar schools

this is just my opinion and i want to open a debate so i welcome lots of argument and mixed opinion.

my experience comes from having 2 children having now passed through the system and being an avid reader of this forum.

My main point is that i dispute absolutly the claim that the current vr test is the best way of assesing potential at grammar school. the most potent evidence of this can be seen by reading any of the appeals in the appeals section where it is clear to me that the crudeness of the 11 plus is highlighted: you only have to read the appeals tribulations of morning glory and tottington to see that the vr test completly failed these children who clearly had grammar school potential but who for there own individual reasons didn't do well at the bucks VR.

my children are also a case in point. Both of them had at least a year of regular tutoring both at home and privatly. My dd took the 11 plus 3 yrs ago and failed by a few marks however we had already decided that the local comp was probably a better option as it was mixed and probably suited her personality better and so we had put this first on the choice list and so it didn't actually make any difference although it was very upsetting for her, obviously we didn't appeal but it was a bit of a shock, because her ks2 sats were then v important as at the comp she was to be streamed we worked on these and she got three 5a's and got the highest marks in her year higher than the 6 or so children that passed the 11 plus. she is now in year 9 and has just got a level 8 in maths and science and levels 7's in english and i feel certain she would have performed equally as well and managed fine at the grammar school. the fact was she was never very good at VR, even with the tutoring she found it hard, her vocab was not up to it and she hated codes etc.However my son was completly different he had the same level of tutoring but found vr to be easy he could do it naturally even from the start he was regularly getting 75+ and at the end even better his vocab was better cos he read more but he just had the right brain for it, and in the end achieved at least 20 more points more than his sister in the 11 plus however at school he is way behind what she achieved at his stage he got level 3ths and 4 s in year 5 (my dd got 3 5's at the end of year 5) and he'll be doing well to get 2 4's and a 5 at the end of year 6.

so the question is if the vr test is so inappropriate wot would be better and i feel we have the answer already in the appeal process this seems alot fairer as it is based on a mixture of academic ability(sats predictions) a mixture of performance tests(cats) and teacher and parent assesments and some assesment based on this has got to be better.

I have soap boxed enough and would value other peoples opinions


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:49 pm 
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Location: berkshire
I am writing this as an outsider to the Bucks process but as someone who has had a child go thru the 11plus.


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seems alot fairer as it is based on a mixture of academic ability(sats predictions) a mixture of performance tests(cats) and teacher and parent assesments and some assesment based on this has got to be better.


Unfortunately this would mean every child going through an interview process and in a county such as Bucks would be too time consuming.

Teacher assessments could be biased (either way) as could Sats predictions.

Having said that, I think the VR/NVR format is too narrow. I prefer throwing Maths into the mix..... this is a personal preference as my child (aspergers) would never have got into grammar if Maths was not included. He is now achieving A*s in GCSE papers for Maths & Science and his English has improved dramatically.

No one way suits every child - but it does need to be based on exam results with the option of Appeal for those who do not perform on the day. I think that if the exam was more wide ranging then more children would be given the chance to show their ability.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 11:00 pm 
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obsolutly chad i'm not saying everyone should have an interview and obviously teacher assesments are difficult but most of the assesments would be based on results. but there would be room for flexibility in other words you could say "this child has a real problem with tests, or this child has a real problem with vocabulary" - "but from my experience of them as their teacher i honestly think they would be ideal for the grammar school environment". also clearly academic test have to be important if you set a level of 3 5b's for ks2 sats then at least this would reflect what they are going to have to study at secondary school and would therefore be an advantage for everyone my sons ability to spot four letter words in sentances is fairly useless i would much prefer him to have had tutoring in maths or comprehension


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 12:07 am 
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Whatever the shortcomings of the present system, any alternative would have to be workable, consistent, objective and lawful.

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teacher assesments are difficult but most of the assesments would be based on results
Not sure if this refers to optional SATs, but not all schools do them.

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there would be room for flexibility in other words you could say "this child has a real problem with tests, or this child has a real problem with vocabulary" - "but from my experience of them as their teacher i honestly think they would be ideal for the grammar school environment".
An appeal panel can weigh up this sort of argument, but how would it fit with a set of objective criteria for grammar school qualification?

Quote:
also clearly academic test have to be important if you set a level of 3 5b's for ks2 sats then at least this would reflect what they are going to have to study at secondary school
KS2 predictions are just predictions. And what about independent schools that don't do SATs?

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a mixture of performance tests(cats)
Many schools don't do CATs or alternative reasoning tests.

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parent assesments
?????

Any 11+ process that is not strictly objective would be open to challenge.

Against this mixed background of SATs and CATs and teacher & parent recommendations, what exactly would be the objective and consistent benchmark for grammar school qualification?

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:42 am 
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V good points Etienne so how about this

A formal exam is taken in november or maybe even earlier for children (private and state) who wish to apply for grammar school this contains sats type papers in english maths and science and cats type papers in a v wide range of tests of vr nvr etc etc (a bit like the ep reports we see) this is accompanied by a school report and a report from parents explaining any particular individual circumstances etc.

this would have some particular advantages firstly as there is such a wide range of assessments children that are particularly good or bad at vr would not have a particular advantage/disadvantage and it will be much harder to coach v intensively hopefully reducing any coaching bias , secondly as the assessment is so broad and therefore the evidence better you could only allow appeals in bordeline cases unless there are very specific reasons because you can claim that you have made a fairer assessment in the first place and finally the preparation made for these assessment particularly the sats would be more useful for the chldren in the future. I realise that any assessment is never gonna be perfect but i do thisnk this sort of assesment would be fairer.

the benchmark would be some kind of composite weighted score ie 40% cats 40% sats 20% other evidence, simple levels of suitabilty are then produced ie suitable, borderline ,unsuitable and only the borderlines are genarally accepted for appeal or something like that that the specific are not that important its the principle of a fairer wider test initially that important.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:57 am 
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puts his soap box out again

also i would like to see the children (and parents) have a much better idea of what going to grammar school or non selective school means way before these tests are taken, not just an open evening but some real experience of the differences ie 'this is what the learning environment, lessons are like here' wereas 'here it is like this' trying to move away from a pass/fail type process to a matching school-child type process. It would also be good to have the results of the suitability test available before school choices are made


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:12 am 
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I cant agree more, Tree!!

I am assistant head at our local Primary school and the 11+ is becoming a total hash with intensive tutoring, parental pressure and general madness causing much heartache!

This year has been particularly bad - we are so concerned about some of the children who gained a grammar school place via Bucks vr tests mainly after intensive tutoring over a period of time that we have called parents in to warn them of what there child will be facing - a long and lonely struggle!

The grammar schools need to be made aware of this - however, a recent conversation with head of a HW grammar would suggest they are more than aware!!!

I too could get on my soap box so best climb down now - a great posting to open a much needed debate.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:23 am 
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Bucks used to have three VR tests but abandoned one of them and its review process (where several hundred borderline cases were looked at individually) to get the results out by 1st March.

You're suggesting tests in English, Maths, Science, VR, Q, NVR. This would be objective, but would it be workable? The earlier you start, the more concern there is about the maturity of the child.

This pales into insignificance at the thought of 20% of marks being allocated for 'other evidence'.

At the moment 6 appeal panels a day are spending the best part of 2 months assessing other evidence such as reports for around 1000 children. Reports come in all shapes and sizes from ooc schools in particular. No panel allocates precise marks as part of its decision making for a selection appeal because there's no way different panels can do this consistently and objectively.

How would it be possible to allocate 20% of marks to every single child taking the 11+ on a consistent and objective basis in the timescale available?

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 Post subject: bucks vr not a good test
PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:52 am 
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I am the first to agree that testing on vr alone is far from perfect. Most private schools test maths and english as well as vr (and even nvr) - of course this costs more in terms of marking time and so forth. The vr test is at least reasonably objective however. What concerns me, given the enormous number of appeals this year (just compare it with the number of actual test passes within Bucks) is how objective the appeals system is. Is there any review of the consistency of decisions between different panels? Of the relative numbers of boys and girls appealing and winning/losing. Of the socio-economic (and other) background of those children appealing, and their relative success (I note that parents are sometimes encouraged to get private reports which must be beyond the means of some familes, and yet they are clearly regarded as possibly helpful). Do some particular extenuating circumstances have more chance of swaying a panel than others? Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely sure that appeal panels do their very best to be as objective as possible. And, given the limitations of the vr test, some kind of review is probably essential, and I wish the very best of luck to every family which is appealing. But the high, and growing number of appeals (and if 40% of a higher number are successful it will surely only encourage more, leading to higher and higher percentages qualifying on appeal rather than the test itself), and the fact that an appeal always inevitably involves some element of subjectivity, leads me to conclude that the appeal system itself should be monitored very carefully indeed.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:46 am 
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The number of appeals was around 1000 after the review process was abolished, it fell gradually to around 850, and now seems to be back up again.

The answer to chinup's question is that IAPs are not monitored for consistency. I believe the ombudsman fully accepts that. Each panel is an independent statutory tribunal, entitled to make its own decisions on the basis of the evidence available. Anyone who's ever had to try and work out whether a death in the family in August affected an 11+ result in October to the extent of 5 marks knows that it's not a totally clinical and objective exercise.

In general terms, an appeal panel will do all that it can to ensure that someone from a less privileged background is not disadvantaged at the appeal hearing, but there's no answer to the specific point that a well-off family can afford an EP report (which may or may not help their case, depending on what it says). It's a basic principle that appellants must be free to introduce whatever evidence they see fit.

We're at risk of going off-topic here, but chinup has touched on an important point. The 11+ has to be clinical and objective, whereas the appeals system allows for some discretion.

Can we now return to Tree's brave attempt to reform the 11+? :)

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