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 Post subject: New Test
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:47 am 
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Does anyone else have a sneaking suspision that the new test is more a measure of education and less of innate ability, therefore favouring the middle classes even more than previously?

A child from a less privileged and well read family is unlikely to be exposed to a rich vocabulary...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:31 pm 
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I always thought the VR test favours middle class families far more than the new one - with the VR, you need to be very well tutored as well as well read (i.e vocabulary).

With the new test, I think its a fairer judge of a child's ability to cope with grammar school education - as it covers maths, NVR as well as English and NVR. If my son does not get through, I am more likely to accept this than if he was doing the old style test.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 4:42 pm 
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I disagree. Children do not need to be well tutored to pass the VR test. They do, generally, need to be familiar with the style of questions. The NFER state that tutoring, beyond a certain level of familiarisation, does not help with their papers.


In my experience this is accurate.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 5:08 pm 
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Location: South Warwickshire
Hi Charlotte, I don't really know the answer to your question but I agree with Rugbymum. Also, I am only going on what my son told me about the exam, but my impression is a lot of the vocab isn't actually all that difficult. For example, where you have to fill in a missing word in a passage or guess a word based on some clues, the word itself is usually a fairly routine everyday word. What makes it tricky is that you have to do a lot of them in a short space of time, plus the clues still leave you with a fair amount of working out to do. Also, the non-verbal sections of the exam (i.e. the short maths questions and NVR) seemed to be very cleverly designed to require intuitive ability rather than any learned knowledge, which will help compensate for a limited vocabulary if the child is stronger in this area. My sons report also gave me the impression that the maths content differed from much of the practice material we used in that it was much less reliant on some of the theory of maths that children only learn towards the end of KS2.

One thing I would love to know is what the underlying objective of the test is. It seems to me that if they want to maximise the exam results achieved by the grammar schools, then the social factors that led to the child doing better in the test will probably continue to apply for the rest of their education and the test would have done its job. I think what you want (and I agree with you) is for the test to eliminate these factors and pick the children with the best brains. But regardless which of the above 2 aims applies, the problem with the old test was children who didn't have great academic potential were getting in through heavy coaching and then struggling. At least that is what I have heard anecdotally from a friend's son who says there are a fair few children in his year in that situation. I do take on board that you disagree with this and I can't prove it. All exams will have flaws and there will be an element of luck on the day around the margins. But at least it seems the range of marks will be much wider and children on the margins will be less likely to have their fate decided by a lucky guess. With regard to what NFER say on their web site - well, they would say that, wouldn't they?

On the whole, I agree with the view you expressed in another thread that the best approach for everyone is to select on ability within a comprehensive system allowing full mobility beyond 11. That's what I had, and it worked ok for me. But we each have to do the best for our individual children within the system we are presented with, and if our children happen to be lucky enough to be strong academically at this age and to get through the exam, the system will work to their advantage.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 5:13 pm 
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Bad Dad. I knew I could rely on you to be the eloquent voice of reason!

Thank you.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 7:23 pm 
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Just to add my reasons for believing that NFER's assersion regarding tutoring is correct...

I know many, many children who sat the 11+ test last year. Many were tutored - some very heavily with intensive courses and/or 2+ years of coaching, some had 2/3/4 sessions with a more laid back approach. Some were home tutored; some just did the 4 familiarisation papers.

In my opinion, with the knowledge that I have (not all children have divulged their scores or level of coaching), the rankings were not affected at all by the amount of coaching. The children (that I know of) came out in the exact order as would have been expected, with the following exceptions:

1 child had a total melt down due to nerves. She 'failed' but was close to the pass mark & was assessed in.

2 children 'failed' having only looked at the familiarisation paper that was sent to all who registered (! strange behaviour if you really want your child to go GS). Both were close enough to be assesed in via the boarderline procedure.

1 child as above who did not score sufficiently well to be considered as boarderline.

In my opinion there were no surprise passes.


I thought the system worked well - it seemed reliable and accessible. Bad Dad has put my mind at ease about the content of the test but I do think that VR gets an unjustified bad press!

This is my only year of 11+ experience (well, apart from my own!)

Charlotte


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:09 pm 
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Will the existing borderline procedure / Headteacher's recommendation system continue with the new exam and is it fair or does it favour the more extrovert pupils? Will the quieter pupils still fade into the background?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 9:31 pm 
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Good question Cam. I have assumed that it will continue but of course, there is now no essay... Might have to give them a ring (I am so nosey!)

I agree about the quiet kids fading into the background & potentially missing out (am I contradicting myself here?) but think that by year 6 most teachers will have a handle on ability levels.

It seems to me that extroversion is rewarded far too much in primary school but, in the words of the great T.I.P.S.Y, that's a whole other subject!


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 Post subject: Vocabulary
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:48 am 
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Another series of very good posts but I would like to point out that, whatever the percieved views are, vocabulary testing is very much part of contempory educational thinking based on the Yellis test. I would say that trend is generally to go that way including employing psycometric testing. When marked by computer, it is a very fast and efficient way to assess which children have the desired aptitudes for learning, particularly in an academic environment.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:47 am 
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Hi Sassie's Dad,

As I have said before (too many times probably :oops: ), I do feel that VR is a good measure of potential - it tests so much more than vocabulary though. To compete in today's world, the children do need to have a level of familiarisation. My (current) beef is that familarisation for the old tests was easily accessible to all parents (via the high st or internet). The new test has worried parents (yes, including me) and is likely to have caused a move away from mum & dad helping their children at home towards professional tutoring. This cannot be a good thing...

Happy new year Warks.

Charlotte


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