1) A small increase of 36 children in the cohort, is swamped by a massive increase of 185 children taking the Test, comprising 113 boys and 72 girls. This increase in candidates with roughly the same percentage passing fully explains the sharp rise in the pass mark, which is reached by what is called local standardisation. The test was no more difficult to pass, it's just that there was a much higher proportion of weaker candidates, producing this effect (sorry if it is rather complicated to follow!). Last year was the first for a return to having the majority of children taking the test in schools after several years in large centres (leading to multiple complaints about test administration which have now gone away - see previous articles). A reader of this website has suggested that, whilst it has taken a year to kick in, more children are now taking the test in the familiar surroundings of their own school and this will be the new norm. I agree that this is the likeliest explanation. Indeed my fallible memory is that pass scores were around this higher level when the tests were previously administered in schools.
2) Most years it is impossible to fix a pass mark that awards passes to the exact target figure of 23% of the cohort. For the 2013 tests the pass percentage of 23.2% is just above the target, for 2012, at 22.3% it was below.
3) The most remarkable change is in the proportion of boys (and girls) passing the Medway Test for entry in 2014. Although there is an increase in the number of girls taking the Medway Test, the number passing has actually fallen to provide 23.7% of the cohort with passes, still greater than the average 23.2%. However, the number of boys passing has sharply increased by 53, bringing the pass rate close to the target figure of 23%, at 22.7%. As in (1) above, could the increase in boys passing be down to more bright boys taking the test because it is administrered in their own schools? I have not yet obtained the comparative results for Kent children, who supply most of the additional Medway grammar school children, mainly coming from the Walderslade and Bluebell Hill area.
4)The consequences may be quite dramatic although can be affected by the pattern of Review outcomes. Quite simply, both Rainham Mark Grammar and Rochester Maths have been full for some years, with Chatham Grammar School for Boys taking the hit (although most of its intake have traditionally put the school as their first choice). The likelihood is therefore that Chatham Boys Grammar is likely to see a much larger intake incorporating most of those 53 boys which will provide a massive boost to its fortunes, in spite of its Special Measures status. The popularity of Rochester Maths School fell sharply last year with the continued decline in the number of boys passing the Medway Test, and so they also will see more pressure on places for 2014 entry. As for the girls grammars, neither Chatham Girls nor Fort Pitt filled on allocation last March and Rochester Grammar, in spite of its selection of the highest scorers, took all girls who had passed and applied to it as their highest choice. Again with the caveat that we don't yet know the Review outcomes, for girls who have passed the Medway Test there is now a much greater likelihood that they will be be awarded their first choice grammar school.