Medway: Although the Medway Test pass score, at 509, is up a little from last year's 505, this is purely a reflection of a different proportion of Medway children taking the Test, with some of the additional candidates achieving low scores. It is certainly not an indication of a higher difficulty in the Test, the pass mark being fixed as always to allow 23% of all Medway children in the age group to be found selective. However, there are likely to be significant changes in the pattern of take up of places for next September, because of two factors. Firstly, Fort Pitt Grammar Schools has changed its oversubscription criteria from giving priority to those girls living nearest to the school as measured by the shortest available safe walking distance. Now, after the usual priorities for children in Local Authority care and siblings, the school will give priority to girls living in within two miles of the school. Then it switches completely to give next priority to girls living on the Hoo Peninsula in named parishes. See the school admissions policy for details of these. This radical change is going to exclude some children from this popular school who live in urban Medway. My advice to those unsure, is to check with the school whether you fall within the two mile cut off, as calculating this by finding the nearest safe walking route is not easy. You will find my opinion of the rationale for this here.
As numbers of children in the relevant year group in Medway continue to fall, the number of children being found suitable for grammar school through the Medway Test is also falling. The two Chatham grammar schools are the main victims of this fall in numbers, and have come up with a unique approach to solving the problem by offering approaches to reconsider children who have underperformed in the Medway Test. Details here. Rainham Mark Grammar School and Rochester Grammar School are also starting to show the effects, with Rainham Mark which selects boys and girls with the highest scores in the Medway Test, taking children who have scored the minimum pass mark several times in recent years. Whilst Rochester Grammar has not seen such a steep fall, it has also been recruiting at a lower standard than a few years ago.
It is very pleasing to record that, as distinct from the 2011 Medway Tests, I have had no reports so far of any problems at Test Centres. Congratulations to all concerned.
If you would like to discuss the effect any of this will have on your children's choice and order of schools, or the issue of the Medway Review, please feel free to use my Telephone Consultation Service (fee of £45 reimbursed if you use my services for an appeal).
Kent: The range of scores possible in the Kent Test has enlarged slightly for 2013 entry, because of a different statistical approach. In past years aggregate scores have ranged from 210, with the pass mark hovering around 360, to 420 on a standardised range. For 2013 entry, the range of possible scores is now from 207 to 423. The only children who could be affected by the change are those applying for 'super-selectives'. As explained to me by KCC, a slightly different process was used for standardising this year, which has seen the 70-140 range for each paper stretched to 69-141. For statisticians, the extra point comes from elongating the 140, so that those who scored 139 before on a paper still score 139. Its just that the 140 has become divided. This bulge at tthe top comes about as the results curve is not what is known as a "normal distribution" of ability because of the extensive coaching that takes place, results in the the top crowded with maximum scores, so that standard patterns don't apply. For 2012 entry there were just 76 children in total who scored 418 in the Kent Test, and 98 with 419, but 589 scoring the maximum 420. However, data reported to parents on the 11 plus website indicates a considerable increase in that number, with 880 scoring over 420 for 2013, including over 660 on the magical 423.
The change will increase the proportion of children on the higher scores as any child with one or more 141s will score one to three points higher than they would have gained last year. This has an inevitable effect on the cut-off for the superselectives and will result in an increase of up to three points in what they would otherwise be at the highest level, but fading away below 420. Some children with one or more 141s may now edge out children who remain on test scores of 140 or below. The two schools where there will be the most significant effect felt, are The Judd School in Tonbridge, and (I believe) Dartford Grammar School. The Judd School is currently the most selective in Kent and last year some children with a score of 418 were not offered places on 1st March.These these include both boys and girls, the scores coming from children across Kent and outside, and with the ever growing popularity of The Judd School, it is conceivable that the cut off point will go over 420 (but it could of course fall, fluctuation also occurring because of a change in the number of children applying to the school), in which case, the extended range of three points at the top would enable further differentiation to take place. In other words, a score of 420 may not be a guarantee of a place at the school. I also include Dartford Grammar School, which admits roughly 40% of its boys who are high scorers from South East London. This number is increasing year on year, and although last year's cut off was 414, I had already anticipated it would rise further for 2013, and although unlikely it is possible it could join The Judd in the stratosphere (again, it could fall so don't reject it on the grounds the cut off point will necessarily be higher). There may also be an effect at Skinners and Tonbridge Grammar School.