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Thursday, 22 May 2014 00:00

Kent Test September 2014

UPDATED TO INCLUDE LINK TO FAMILIARISATION PAPER 

Kent County Council has now published the details of the new Kent Test to be taken in September 2014, and I was pleased to be able to break the news here, a week before official publication, after several primary headteachers shared the information with their parents. The specification provided is as follows. You will find KCC's statement here. Kent County Council has now prepared a familiarisation paper for pupils taking the test, to indicate the type of questions being asked. You will find this here

 

Test Specification

Kent candidates will take the tests on Wednesday 10 September. External candidates will take them on Saturday 13 September. Everyone will take the tests on one day. 

The first test will be an English and Maths paper in multiple-choice format with a separate machine readable (OMR) answer sheet. The English test is the first section. The whole test will take an hour to administer, plus any admin time before formal timing begins. Each sub-test will take 25 minutes, and will be preceded by a five minute practice exercise. Children will be required to stop at the end of the English section and wait for instructions before they start the Maths paper. The English will involve a comprehension exercise plus some additional questions drawn from a set designed to test literacy skills.

 

The second test will be a Reasoning paper in multiple-choice format. It will take about an hour* to administer, including the practice drills and questions. It will contain a verbal reasoning section and a non-verbal reasoning section of roughly the same length, with the verbal reasoning being the first part. The non-verbal reasoning will be split into four short sections, administered and timed individually (as in the previous tests).

 

There will still be a writing exercise which will not be marked but may be taken into consideration in borderline cases referred to the local Head Teacher Assessment Panel. 40 minutes will be allowed for the writing task, including 10 minutes to plan the piece.

 *Exactly how long the reasoning test takes will depend on how quickly the practice drill and questions are completed before each timed section.  

 Scores: 

Scores will still be age standardised, using a national standardisation. The score range on each paper will be 69 or 70 to 140 or 141 as now, so the maximum aggregate standardised score would be 280 or 282.

 

 Threshold: 

 Until Kent pupils have taken the tests it will not be possible to predict the threshold for grammar school but it is probable that it will be set in a similar way, using a minimum aggregate score and a minimum level for a single score.

 

Wherever the threshold is set, those schools which rank children by aggregate score for admission will continue to work down their list of applicants in score order, taking the highest scorers first, so the only effect of the changes will be that the scores involved will be different because fewer tests are involved. 

 

Appeals:

You cannot appeal against a Kent Test Result, only against a decision not to be awarded a grammar school place you have applied for.

 My own view is that under the new arrangements there is a significantly greater chance of material leaking between Wednesday and Saturday than previously, for what I have seen of English multiple choice tests suggests that some themes are memorable and will be remembered.  

As in previous years, KCC will determine a set of marks across the  elements, four this year, which will identify 21% of children from the traditional selective areas of Kent to be selected. Many will argue that this is not a precise science. It certainly is not, and a major weakness of the selective system remains as it has always been, that on a different day, many different children would have been found of grammar school ability than those who actually were. By reducing the number of questions in each section, there is now inevitably a larger element of luck in which question types come up in the test.

The biggest and really only significant change is that English comprehension and the test to measure literacy skills are likely to be given the same weighting as the other three elements, with a minimum score being required in all four. This will certainly see a different profile of successful candidates and I would estimate a higher proportion of girls will be successful than in previous years, a judgement based on statistics from those years. A spin off from this would of course be a reduction in pressure on boys’ grammar school places in West and North West Kent.

I would welcome  further comment in order to ensure the article covers relevant issues.

Last modified on Monday, 07 July 2014 11:48

3 comments

  • Comment Link Monday, 08 September 2014 23:28 posted by R D

    Interestingly, I requested similar information from KCC via a FOI request back in April. They failed to provide me with this "familiarisation" document, as have our daughter's primary school.

    I am relieved to see that the questions and format is largely unchanged from the previous Kent Test Maths, VR and NVR papers and questions - which is good news. I agree that with the papers being so much shorter than previously, much more "luck" is involved in questions appearing that fall within the knowledge and skill areas of the candidate.

    For me, the whole exercise has been entirely pointless. Clearly, as the questions are the same, the preparation of those parents who are/were going to prepare their children will be the same, why bother to change the Kent Test at all? It smacks of a pointless, cash-wasting exercise that has done nothing to stop children being coached and prepared for passing these new tests. Indeed, it would appear from local coaches that the change has actually induced MORE coaching than ever before as parents panic!

    Still, at least the closure of the Chaucer School in Canterbury will reap in a few quid for KCC to cover this wasted expenditure when they sell it for land development...

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 02 September 2014 12:45 posted by Vicki Smith

    Hello. I have been advised that, as my daughter is the oldest in her year, her scores will be `weighted' as older pupils are considered to have an advantage. Can you confirm if this is correct please. PETER: Your daughter's scores will be compared be compared against a sample of children born in the same month to work out how they are standardised. I carried out an analysis a couple of years ago to see if anyone was disadvantaged by this approach. You will find it at: http://www.kentadvice.co.uk/peters-blog/news-a-comments/item/562-11-plus-test-results-by-age.html. Answer: It is correct, but it is also fair! Of course it may all be different with the new test and I will carry out the analysis again.

  • Comment Link Monday, 02 June 2014 10:17 posted by O. W.

    Do you know if it is possible to obtain information on how many pupils were successful at the TWGGS appeals last week, area of residence and whether they had passed the 11+? My suspicion is that only girls out of the area with 11+ passes were given places rather than those with narrow misses (who as you say above might have done better on another day) and who have otherwise high academic levels. PETER: I have always found the school very helpful in providing information to genuine enquirers. However, whilst they may well tell you how many passed (I would be grateful if you would let me know), the level of detail you are looking for may be a step too far as it could identify individuals. My understanding is that there were very few if any out of children with passes looking for places. (My own two clients, who had not passed, were successful at appeal!)

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