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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:24 am 
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Interesting article in the Observer today (09.02.2014) about the initial feedback and findings of the switch to Durham CEM based 11+. from the traditional GL papers:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/feb/08/grammar-selective-schools-exam-tutors?guni=Keyword:news-grid%20main-1%20Main%20trailblock:Editable%20trailblock%20-%20news:Position6

The article particularly focuses on the recent switch in Buckinghamshire and the initial observations:-

Quote:
Ros Rochefort, headteacher at Bledlow Ridge primary school in Buckinghamshire, said the old test was widely discredited and the new one had been a success. "Before, tutors could teach children the test technique, which would inflate their scores without improving understanding," she said.

"Every year, there were always those that were heavily coached like this and there was nothing we could do about it. Kids who we didn't expect to pass were highly coached and did pass, and brighter kids who couldn't afford tuition lost out. That was so sad."

Rochefort said that this year, for the first time in her career, the test has delivered a fair result. "All the kids who got through were expected to pass and, as usual, there are a couple of appeals coming through. All our very able children were selected."


The Sutton Trust report mentioned in the article is available for download from:-

http://www.suttontrust.com/our-work/research/item/poor-grammar-entry-into-grammar-schools-disadvantaged-pupils-in/

I would be interested to see if this is just a first exam year observation or if this can be sustained - some research and analysis on the B/Ham exam 8 years on would be interesting?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:26 pm 
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I noted the article listed nvr as a subject taught in primary school...not in ours?

There is a prep in high wycombe that boasts 80% pass rate...and guess what, nothing changed this year! They do not select their pupils, they are just normal kids. These kids along with a few other local schools (state and private) are widely recognised in the local grammars as being "from ****" when their peers are discussing floundering classmates, almost as if that is their excuse!

Definitely amongst parents and schools that follow the rules to the letter, the new test has been better at ensuring the very bright pass, the fall out has been the 10% who are at the bottom of the normal expected 23% bucks state pass. There is also a surprise pass in nearly every school local to me, and I hate to say it, because I will be accused of being inflammatory, but 3 out of 5 of the surprise passes I know of sat late!

I also think that partner schools should have independent investigators, following the prep school familiarisation paper debacle....accident or not, if happened! Also whatever the official take, the mum's admit marking the paper at home helped their kids quite a bit.

So yes, personally I agree it is a step in the right direction, but a lot more work is needed, and imo scrap the nvr, which is easily tutored.


Last edited by southbucks3 on Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:23 pm 
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Quote:
Ros Rochefort, headteacher at Bledlow Ridge primary school in Buckinghamshire, said the old test was widely discredited and the new one had been a success. "Before, tutors could teach children the test technique, which would inflate their scores without improving understanding," she said.

The old test was undoubtedly discredited. Large numbers of naturally bright children were being tutored. If tutoring did not exist for any child, those children would still have passed, but with additional help to understand the techniques involved and repetitive practice over several months, their scores sky-rocketed, pushing the pass mark up to well over 90%.

That in turn inflated the perceived need for tutoring among a much wider group of pupils, some of whom were borderline candidates for grammar school.

Ros Rochefort wrote:
"Every year, there were always those that were heavily coached like this and there was nothing we could do about it. Kids who we didn't expect to pass were highly coached and did pass, and brighter kids who couldn't afford tuition lost out. That was so sad."

I agree with that statement in part. I have to disagree with the concept that tutoring could convert a child who was clearly not grammar school material into one who passed the test. You simply cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Where I agree with Ros is that a number of heavily tutored borderline candidates were successful who might not otherwise have been.

There were also other candidates, bright children who would probably have qualified if they had had the benefit of additional familiarisation (dear old Bunting & Mooney, 2001), but I can’t attribute that entirely to the cost of tutoring. DIY tutoring resources have never been unaffordable for the great majority, and bright children have always been able to benefit from those.

What I am sure of is that some parents were (and still are) completely oblivious of the amount of preparation that goes on for the test, and they assumed that their bright child would walk into the test room to find a level playing field. We still get regular posts on the forum from parents who say they had no idea at all what a jungle it was out there until their child didn’t qualify.

The question Ken rightly poses is whether the CEM test has changed that in the short term or in the long term?

Quote:
Provisional results indicate that a more diverse selection of pupils passed this test, and headteachers say they feel the change has made a difference. Rochefort said that this year, for the first time in her career, the test has delivered a fair result. "All the kids who got through were expected to pass and, as usual, there are a couple of appeals coming through. All our very able children were selected."

Obviously I don’t know the pass rate for Bledlow Ridge school for 2014 entry, but the school is comfortably within the top 25% of Bucks primaries for SATs results.

Its 11+ results in the last couple of years have been somewhat deflated (2013: 26%; 2012: 32%; 2011: 52%; 2010: 44% figures for total school cohort excluding appeals). The reasons for that could be many and varied. It might just have been a difference in the ability of the cohorts from year to year, something that no one can bargain for. Perhaps the old test was indeed so corrupt that untutored bright children at the school were missing out in large numbers in the last couple of years, in which case Ros has every reason to applaud the new test if it has indeed produced a fairer result this year.

What concerns me more is what has happened in the 25% of Bucks primaries at the bottom of the SATs league tables, where qualification rates can be <5%? Has a curriculum-based test really produced a fair result for bright children at those schools as well?

Quote:
Philip Wayne, headteacher at Chesham grammar school and chairman of the Bucks Grammar School Heads Association, has welcomed the changes and says he is "very confident" that the new test will avoid the current situation, in which many pupils who won places at his school with the help of intensive tutoring struggle to keep up with lessons once they arrive.

Although I would like to be the first to agree with that, there is a real concern going forward, hidden in this statement:

Quote:
"I don't know of anyone who stopped tutoring," admitted one parent, Philip de Lisle from Berkhamsted. "We just decided to coach on general education instead."

As this parent has pointed out, the tutoring is now curriculum-based, and one can argue that it will benefit the children in the long run. The children’s time is certainly spent more gainfully than it ever was when being tutored for the old test, but the pressure cooker has been turned up.

The perceived need for tutoring among parents has escalated in the last year, with near-hysteria over the repeated use (by the media) of the phrase “tutor-proof”, and statements that the CEM test is geared to test learning from the National Curriculum. Children are now being tutored from Year 3, where before they might have only been tutored for 9 months in Year 5. Some of them are now being tutored 2 or 3 times a week, compared to once a week for the old test. Tutoring has never been bigger business in Bucks.

The unanswered question is: “What will happen to those children once the merry-go-round of additional tutoring stops?” Will they turn out to be the ones who “struggle to keep up with lessons when they arrive” at a grammar school? Has anything really changed in the long term?

KenR wrote:
I would be interested to see if this is just a first exam year observation or if this can be sustained - some research and analysis on the B/Ham exam 8 years on would be interesting?

As you say, Ken, some evaluation of the change in the Birmingham cohort over 8 years would be very interesting indeed.

southbucks3 wrote:
imo scrap the nvr, which is easily tutored

You would be surprised - NVR is something you can either do (in which case tutoring can help with speed and method) or you can't. I have come across very bright children who simply cannot crack NVR in the form it is currently tested. Provided their other abilities are strong enough, it doesn't seem to make an iota of difference to their ability to cope with a GS level education.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:16 pm 
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A school I have worked in uses NVR to conduct 'fair banding' tests to ensure fairness in its over-subscription criteria - i.e an intake from a broad spectrum of ability in accordance with its comprehensive ethos. No one bothers to tutor for it and I understand it is considered to be as resistant to tutoring as any test around.

I don' t really think there is such a thing as a 'fair' system when what you are aiming to do is educate one section of the population separately from another.
Quote:
Children are now being tutored from Year 3, where before they might have only been tutored for 9 months in Year 5. Some of them are now being tutored 2 or 3 times a week, compared to once a week for the old test. Tutoring has never been bigger business in Bucks.
How sad.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:06 pm 
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I don't think one head's perceptions from one school is good enough. So far as I can tell no proper research is being done.

The old Bucks test was particularly strange being verbal reasoning only. Why was that?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:14 pm 
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Amber wrote:
I don' t really think there is such a thing as a 'fair' system when what you are aiming to do is educate one section of the population separately from another.

Agree.
Could it be possible, with time CEM tests may become as predictable(tutorable) as GL assessments ? Some tutors are already collecting feedback from many children about the questions in previous CEM exams.

Quote:
Children are now being tutored from Year 3, where before they might have only been tutored for 9 months in Year 5. Some of them are now being tutored 2 or 3 times a week, compared to once a week for the old test. Tutoring has never been bigger business in Bucks.
Quote:
How sad.


Sad Indeed, however, that is the reality. I personally saw it when I went to see some tuition centres running full capacity and maintaining a waiting list.
Yr 3 - 1.5 hrs tuition per week, 1.0hr homework per day.
Yr 4 - 2.0 hrs tuition per week, 1.5hr homework per day.
Yr 5 - 2.5 hrs tuition per week, 2.5hr homework per day.
This seems to be the norm. I started my enquiries in December of Yr 5 and I was told I have left it too late, sorry, no vacancies for certain days/times/tutors.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 8:45 pm 
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Quote:
Sad Indeed, however, that is the reality. I personally saw it when I went to see some tuition centres running full capacity and maintaining a waiting list.
Yr 3 - 1.5 hrs tuition per week, 1.0hr homework per day.
Yr 4 - 2.0 hrs tuition per week, 1.5hr homework per day.
Yr 5 - 2.5 hrs tuition per week, 2.5hr homework per day.
This seems to be the norm. I started my enquiries in December of Yr 5 and I was told I have left it too late, sorry, no vacancies for certain days/times/tutors.


Sorry - but I just have to say - those times are, in my opinion, utterly ridiculous! My youngest DD is in Y5, she does 2 hours of tutoring a week (started with 1 hour in Sept - up to 2 hours from Jan), and probably a couple of hours homework a week (max - sometimes less). No way would I countenance 2.5 hours a day - these are 9-10 year old children!!! Any why on earth would you start in Year 3? Not necessary!! Just support reading, mental maths, spelling etc - no special tutoring needed!
In Bucks the top 30% should qualify - and this amount of tutoring, and homework seems completely OTT. I know it was a different exam - but my older DD - now in Y9 at grammar - did 1.5 hours/week tutoring in a group from the Jan prior to the exam - plus maybe 1-2 hours homework a week.
We all want to do the best by our kids - but don't be pressured into thinking you have to tutor to those levels from Y3!!!

Just my opinion!! :shock: :roll: :D


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:05 pm 
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mystery wrote:
I don't think one head's perceptions from one school is good enough. So far as I can tell no proper research is being done.

It's a "meeja" sound-bite. There are statistics that I expect will give proper year-on-year comparisons in due course.

Quote:
The old Bucks test was particularly strange being verbal reasoning only. Why was that?

Gosh, it's a long time since anyone asked that! Everything until around 2004 is pre-history, even for me, but from what I have read about it, there was research in the early 2000s to suggest that VR was a very good predictor of eventual academic attainment, and also a more objective test of ability than curriculum-based testing.

Bucks CC went with that research, and introduced 3 x GL VR tests. The lowest result was discarded, and the average of the two best scores made up the final VRTS. In the mid-2000s the 3rd test was discontinued, and the highest of the two remaining scores became the final VRTS.

Although it was always acknowledged that VR-only made for a somewhat lopsided test, the thinking remained that non-curriculum-based testing was the best route to take. Although occasional mutterings came up about NVR being added, no one could really agree on the weighting of VR vs. NVR, possibly for similar reasons to those that southbucks3, Amber and I have mooted above.

That is a very, very short potted history! Corrections from those with longer memories than mine are welcome, but ultimately, the old test is history now, and that is A Very Good Thing.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 9:15 pm 
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Re: tutors having a field day in bucks.

I honestly think I could stick an a4 piece if paper on the scout hut door, saying "11+ tuition here" and have a half full hall the next week, here in bucks. The whole clandestine nature of the cem sends people running for tutors. My friend is twice as busy now as she was when it was just vr...You guessed it, because she has people who want maths and English and nvr tuition. At least the maths and English supports the child's needs at school too, whereas the nvr may help them do puzzlers weekly in their golden years!

Sally Anne. I have had to look up "meeja" You are sooo trendy, or am I just living on another planet?


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:24 pm 
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And you are more clued up than me Southbucks. I thought it was some kind of typo. Off to the urban dictionary now to update myself on all things useful .....


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