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 Post subject: New Bucks test format
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:47 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Further information has been published today about the new test format:
https://www.thebucksgrammarschools.org/faqs

Quote:
What will the test assess?
Children will be tested on verbal, mathematical and non-verbal skills. Verbal skills will be tested in the first test paper and will include English comprehension, English technical and verbal reasoning questions. In the second paper children will answer non-verbal, spatial reasoning and maths skills questions. All the questions will be multiple-choice.

Will all test questions be equally rated and all the sections equally weighted?
All the test questions will be equally rated (i.e. every correct answer will gain one raw mark). The sections will not be equally weighted. The verbal skills section will have a weighting of 50%. The mathematical and non-verbal sections will each have a weighting of 25%.

I'm not sure that we are really any the wiser on test content, other than that it is clearly not a wholesale return to the previous GL "21 types".

The change to the weighting is very interesting, and I definitely welcome it. There are children who do not have the strongest verbal skills, sometimes because their first language is not English, and the NVR section often allows them to demonstrate their real academic strength. I saw just such a Review case this year where the outcome would have been markedly different if NVR had been given a greater weighting.

Very old-timers on here (all four of us, I think? - me, G55, Patricia and Etienne?) will recall that there used to be a full NVR paper, once upon a time.

On that note: "Discuss"!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:19 pm 
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I'd like to have seen a bit more detail. For example, a familiarisation paper now, with a further one later.

The only people to benefit from this vague info are, imho, tutors who will tell parents they need to cover all bases and this will lead to more tutoring ....


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:53 pm 
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Yes, this glimpse of information is an early Christmas bonus for tutors and an advantage for those with lots of money to throw at them. The schools should have either released nothing (no chance of that) or have given more detail to allow those without the means to afford tutors to prepare their own tuition and practice at home. Let's hope they release extra detail for the DIY-ers in good time.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 8:13 pm 
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So a few extra layers compared to CEM.

Spatial reasoning in addition to NVR

Technical English (essentially SPAG) and VR to go with the English comprehension.

My big question is what will the VR portion consist of, assuming it will be some of the original 21 types - perhaps the more word based types: antonyms/synonyms/double meaning words/compound words/analogies/odd one out/ moving letters to make new words/one letter used to end and start part words???

Watch this space.

Patricia


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:16 pm 
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My first concern is Maths. TBGS direct us to look at the familiarisation papers already published by GL Assessment. GL say their papers:

"assess mathematics in line with the new National Curriculum and cover a variety of curriculum areas taught in schools up to the start of Year 6. The areas assessed typically include aspects of number, measurement, geometry and statistics. Some questions involve using current mathematical skills to solve new kinds of mathematical problems."

Personally, I find the content of the GL papers reaches significantly further into the Y6 curriculum than the materials published as representing CEM papers. While the CEM materials I have seen did include some Y6 content the difficulty was mostly down to the fact that 1) questions were posed as word problems and 2) the time pressure. At any rate, the fact that published materials contained a little Y6 material was not a worry as said materials were not published by CEM nor were they sold as representing the Bucks paper specifically which we were assured was strictly limited (by the terms of the contract) to Y5 National Curriculum content.

Perhaps Guest55 can comment on this but scanning through the familiarisation papers and cross referencing with the NC highlights, to my mind, many questions that draw on Y6 content. For example pie charts, negative quadrants on coordinates grid, order of operations, speed/distance/time, algebra etc.

Of course you'd expect the paper to be challenging but this should be about application of material that you can be confident that the child should have been taught at school. This is especially significant when you understand that the NC is now all about ensuring *mastery* and then *greater depth* on that year's content and not reaching into the next year's content for higher ability pupils. The CEM type materials I have seen do this I think while GL steps firmly into *content* not yet taught. This discriminates against children who are not being tutored and whose schools are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing.

Sadly there is no assurance from TBGS on this point indeed by pointing to the GL published materials they do the opposite. I would like them to confirm that 1) curriculum content will be strictly limited to Y5 and that 2) this will necessitate GL developing a test specifically for Bucks


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:22 pm 
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My second concern is VR. I was really hoping that there wouldn't be a separate VR section and that they would just specify English but with sinking heart I have to share Patricia's note that it would seem we might be back to the cursed 21 question types. ****** useless things that are of no use to anyone and are so open to training.

Al in all I am left rather disappointed and downhearted by what we have been told so far.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 1:45 pm 
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Drummer - I have not looked at the links because we don't know how relevant they are for the Bucks bespoke test. I wonder if Heads were given more detail?

I would suggest that schools request clarification on the maths.
Year 5 content: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... e-of-study

Year 6 content: https://www.gov.uk/government/publicati ... e-of-study

I doubt we are back to 21 types ...


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:10 pm 
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Thanks for responding. I do wish TBGS would confirm that it is indeed a 'bespoke' test and that content will be limited to Year 5 unlike the materials that TBGS themselves have directed people to look at. By doing so TBGS are strongly implying that these published GL tests are representative and relevant for Bucks.

I can't see the justification for including any Y6 content at all. While the test may take place early in Y6 no school will have made any headway into Y6 material by that point (less than 2 weeks). I hope that HTs are mindful of this and insist on a fair test - indeed in is in their interests to do so as, fair or not, like it or not, poor 11+ performance does reflect on a school.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:45 am 
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I'm not sure the new test will be fairer for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Children who haven't had as much practice of the NVR type questions are at a distinct disadvantage because they're not covered in the curriculum. So children who receive tutoring should do better under this new weighting.

Under the CEM test, out of the three sections, children on free school meals did worst in NVR and best in maths, so the new weighting definitely won't help them...

Could someone tell me what the 21 types are....?!

Also, it seems quite outrageous that the grammar schools can just change the test without consulting with parents first.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2017 9:15 pm 
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George74 wrote:
I'm not sure the new test will be fairer for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Children who haven't had as much practice of the NVR type questions are at a distinct disadvantage because they're not covered in the curriculum. So children who receive tutoring should do better under this new weighting.

Under the CEM test, out of the three sections, children on free school meals did worst in NVR and best in maths, so the new weighting definitely won't help them...

Could someone tell me what the 21 types are....?!

Also, it seems quite outrageous that the grammar schools can just change the test without consulting with parents first.

Hi George and welcome to the forum.

I agree that the new format won't help make the test fairer. As for your point about consultation, I believe the old contract ran out which is why they went out to tender for a new contract. Also, call me cynical but I believe that if the schools opened a genuine consultation they would get a disproportionate response from parents of backgrounds that typically qualify or aspire to qualify in the test. I can't imagine many parents from those backgrounds pushing to change a system in order to render tuition and practice obsolete.

I have a similar suspicion of parent governors at the grammar schools. How many of them are going to be objective when they have an opportunity to influence a school's position on selection, when they are presumably quite content with the system that got their children into the grammar school in the first place?

I believe 'groupthink' is what got the Bucks grammars into the pickle they found themselves in when they selected the current test provider a few years ago. Groupthink from Heads easily influenced by one of their own and too easily convinced. I may be wrong but I don't believe circumstances have changed sufficiently in order that some innovative thinking among the grammar schools might shake things up and make the system a fairer one and one less open to exploitation. No one seems to be brave enough to step forward and suggest some adaptations to improve things. Either that or they're quite happy with things as they are and all the talk about wanting a fairer system is just PR speak.


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