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Sunday, 04 October 2015 19:41

Medway Test 2015: Initial Results; Advice on Review

Updated 5th October

The Medway Test pass mark for admission to Medway Grammar Schools in September 2016 is an aggregate of 521, slightly down on last year’s 525, but you can read nothing in to the annual variation of the pass mark as this is arrived at by a local standardisation of marks, as explained below and elsewhere and is a factor of the proportion of Medway children who decide to take the test, not the difficulty. There is further detail about pass rates below. 

You will find a comprehensive survey of Medway Test arrangements and issues here, containing advice and information, with links through to Review Information and Advice and other articles.

I am afraid I am recovering from an operation and will not be able to offer any support to parents this autumn. To assist families trying to decide whether to go to Review, I offer what I hope is helpful advice below as an alternative.

Initial breakdown of passes
 

MEDWAY TEST RESULTS (excluding Review)

 

Children in Cohort

Candidates

Successes

% successes

% of cohort

2015 3066 Medway 1761 712 40 23.2%

2014

3092 Medway

1843

718

39

23.2%

2015 Out of Medway   414   X
2014 Out of Medway 573 321 56 X
 
 
The pass mark has therefore once again been set to pass through almost exactly the target level of 23.0%
 
In previous years, Medway Council has been very reluctant to make information about the Test outcomes public, and so release has depended on my articles on this website. You will find my article for 2014 here, although that provides Review data which is not yet available as Reviews have not yet taken place. Also, in particular we are still missing the gender breakdown for success, to see if the significant discrimination in favour of girls continues as I suspect. In addition it needs to be established if in Medway discrimination against younger children also continues. 
 
The rise and rise of out of county passes continues unabated, with families in the London Boroughs and further afield, many of whom who clearly know nothing of Medway and its schools to judge from comments on the 11 Plus Forum, piling in either for practice for other tests, or for long punts.  Each year, the media in both Kent and Medway gets caught up in the hysteria of a non-existent shortage of grammar school places (up to now), based on such figures, but the reality is very different. For 2015 entry, of those 321 successes, just 113 out of county children were offered places on allocation  in March in Medway grammar schools, 98 of those from Kent, part  of a two way exchange across the border, leaving 128 places vacant in three Medway grammar schools. Of the remaining 15, 10 were allocated places at the two Medway grammars selecting on high scores irrespective of location, but the reality is that most of these will have subsequently been offered and taken up places nearer their homes scattered from Bexley to Harrow. 
 
 
 How the pass mark is reached
The pass mark for the Medway Test this year is an aggregate of 521. The total score for each child is made up of a verbal reasoning score, a mathematics score which is doubled up and an English score which is also doubled up. The pass mark is set to allow 23% of Medway children to pass directly. Out of county children have to achieve the same standard.

So a child who scored: Verbal Reasoning - 110; mathematics – 102; and English – 103; would get a grand total of 110 + 102x2 + 103x2 = 520. This child would not pass as they have not reached 521 in total.

Unlike the Kent Test, there is no minimum score required in individual tests. Therefore, for example, a score of: VR- 75; mathematics – 140; and English – 83; scores 521 and passes.

Local Standardisation
Warning: This is technical – most parents are advised to skip this section. For each test, the scores of all Medway children taking it are arranged in order and the middle one awarded 100. Standardised scores are awarded on either side of this from 70 to 140, to form what is called a normal distribution curve, giving a conversion for each mark scored in the test. A further age standardisation is then (or previously - I am not sure of this one!) applied to eliminate the advantage demonstrated to accrue to older children. Unfortunately, this process does not work in the Medway English Test, so older children still have a higher pass rate than those born later in the year, along with girls, a pattern I expect to see replicated for the 2015 Test.

The shift in pass mark is therefore solely to pass the same proportion of the whole Medway age cohort and bears no relation to any perceived change in difficulty of the test. 

Medway Review
For those parents whose children have not passed the Medway Test, there is now the decision as to whether to go for Review which must be made by next Friday, 9th October, and you will find extensive advice on how to make the decisionelsewhereon this website.

In summary, the Review is purely an academic process, so personal factors such as reasons for underperformance, medical issues, etc., are not taken into account, and you are not allowed to submit evidence supporting them.

What is taken into account is: recent work submitted by the school in English, maths, and science; A headteacher’s recommendation as to grammar/non-selective, the only comment they are allowed to submit; and a copy of some of the child’s formal assessments in school  - KS1 results and Year 5 test results and stardardised assessments. On the basis of this information only, the Review  Panel will select up to 2% more Medway children, together with out of county children of a similar standard, who are then regarded as selective.

Warning: If you later go to appeal for a Medway school, the school and the Independent Appeal Panel will then be sent a full copy of your application form for secondary school places, including the order in which you have placed each school, the reasons you have given, if any, for applying to each school on your list, AND IF YOU HAVE SUBMITTED AN UNSUCCESSFUL REVIEW REQUEST THE REASONS YOU HAVE PUT DOWN ON YOUR R1 REVIEW APPLICATION. This does not happen in Kent.

As you can see, the Review process will certainly ignore most of what you write on your R1, but be careful in case you have a future appeal. If in doubt, leave it out! Nerves on the day are not a helpful mention. 

Advice on whether to go for Review
 
I regret that I am unable to offer personal advice on Review, Admission or Appeal matters this October, for personal reasons, but hope the following may assist. 
 
 
As explained in the Review section on this website, there can be risks about choosing to go for Review. The law states that if you go for Review and are unsuccessful, an appeal to a grammar school can only be upheld if you can demonstrate that the review process was unfair, inconsistent or not objective. Over the years I have had successes over this issue but Medway Council has worked hard to close the gaps, so it is now very difficult to demonstrate unless you have a specific issue.

The following is a brief and personal guide to determine if you should go to Review which was broadly applicable for 2015 entry. Your initial sources are in the primary school; your headteacher and your child’s Year 5 School Report. Only if both are positive about the standard of your child’s work should you consider going to Review, for this is a competitive situation, with traditionally fewer than 20% of candidates succeeding.

The comments relate to the Independent Appeal Panels for the schools and not the schools themselves, although the Panels are highly likely to be guided by the school view.

Chatham Grammar Boys and Chatham Grammar Girlshave not in recent years taken notice of the Review, presumably considering it does not meet the standard required. You there have nothing to lose by going to Review.

Rainham Mark Grammarand The Rochester Grammar rarely take pupils who scored below the pass mark, whether or not they passed on Review. If you are unsuccessful at Review you will almost certainly not get in on appeal.

Sir Joseph Williamson’sappears to take a varying view, depending on its popularity year on year. In recent years it has taken a small number of boys found non-selective, on appeal, some at least of whom have had an unsuccessful Review.

Fort Pitt Grammar. Small number of appeals usually upheld whether or not child is initially classified as grammar. Data too small to comment usefully. Go for Review and if unsuccessful look elsewhere, is the best I can offer. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 October 2015 18:23

1 comment

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 07 October 2015 07:44 posted by Deborah Martin

    Hi Peter I hope you are recovering well from your op. I have read with interest your comments on the this year's Medway Test and can I ask you to explain further your statement in the Local Standardisation section:
    "Unfortunately, this process does not work in the Medway English Test"
    I was under the impression that standardisation was applied to all 3 subjects in the test so would appreciate your clarification. PETER: Well, the English Test is billed as being standardised but the analysis I have carried out for candidates in 2012 and 2014, published elsewhere on this website, show that it is certainly not age standardised, with older children consistently performing better than younger. It is a mystery to me why no one else has challenged this discrimination which certainly does not happen in Kent, nor the legal discrimination of a test whereby girls are consistently found to be more suitable for grammar school than boys.

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