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Thursday, 24 October 2013 15:33

New Kent Test Arrangements Announced

Arrangements for the Kent Test  to be taken in September 2014 have now been announced. Kent County Council has only awarded a one year contract, with an option to be extended, because of the uncertainty over some schools choosing to rely on their own tests in the future which may call for a re-assessment of the process. KCC's press release reads: 

The contract for the county’s Kent Test (11+) for September 2014 has been awarded to GL Assessment. 

GL Assessment has provided the county’s Kent Test papers for many years, but the new contract will introduce some changes intended to deliver a more sophisticated assessment process while reducing the burden of testing for primary schools and children.

Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Education said: “We are pleased to be working with GL Assessment, which has a proven track record of helping the council deliver assessment decisions within a tight time frame. We are also excited about the potential for flexible development offered by the new process, which will give us a wide range of assessment information without requiring children to spend longer in exams.”

Discussions with the test providers will begin shortly to determine the finer details of the new process, however the main elements are:.....

  • Children will not be expected to take separate practice papers – instead, practice exercises will be incorporated into the main papers.
  • There will be two main tests, one assessing reasoning ability and one assessing pupils’ attainment in literacy and numeracy. There will be scope to vary the exercises within the tests to keep the format fresh.
  • All tests will be in multiple-choice format and will be standardised against the performance of a national sample.
  • All candidates will complete a writing task under test conditions, which happens currently. This will not be marked, but will be available to local Headteacher panels that can look at borderline cases at the request of the primary school. The new writing task will be shorter than at present, so that all the assignments can be completed on one day

Parents whose children expect to take the tests in September 2014 will find out more information about the next Kent Test during May 2014. Information will be posted on the council’s website www.kent.gov.uk in time to allow parents to consider whether or not to register their children for the tests by the June deadline. 

The new tests will comprise two main papers instead of three as in previous years, with an additional writing task to be used only where there is a headteacher assessment (HTA) as before. The first paper will probably have content similar to the previous verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests, and will have elements of both, but test different aspects of the two reasoning types from year to year, and possibly in different proportions. We shall not know the exact make up and style until the first papers are set. GL Assessment refers to four reasoning types on its website, including verbal and non-verbal reasoning. However, it also lists Spacial Awareness and Quantitative Reasoning, both of which it explains as part of NVR.  The second paper will be a combination of numeracy (which is the current third paper) but will also test literacy for the first time in many years. Again we shall need to see the first papers to be confident of content, but as it is to be a multiple choice paper, as is the first one, I anticipate it will be mainly a comprehension task, possibly with an element of grammar. 

KCC hopes that the flexibility of the new format will reduce the effects of coaching and certainly the first year's test will be partly uncharted waters, but I anticipate the coaching industry and the obsessives will go into full speed to seek out possible examples of the new format, and by Year Two will be geared up. However, the very uncertainty of content and arrangement of it across the two papers will reduce the effect and hopefully provide a more level playing field, which should be applauded by all  parents. 

One school which will be a barometer of the success of the new tests is The Judd School in Tonbridge, our super selective grammar with the highest requirements in the Kent Test. Judd has made it clear it wants to attract the boys with the highest ability, not those most heavily coached and will be watching the outcomes of the 2014 Kent Test with great interest. It will then decide if it will stay with the Kent Test (assuming it worked!) or abandon it and seek its own test with a stronger element of literacy. Interestingly, both the Dover and now the Shepway Test which are run as an alternative to the Kent Test have a significant literacy element, which they claim enables them to select more children of grammar school ability with such strengths. Tests such as these can be administered by a small group of schools  whoa re able to mark literacy papers by hand and ensure consistency of assessment. Sadly, this is not possible across the 12,000 Kent Test applicants, which is why the 'literacy' element is assessed by a multiple choice paper. 

Another website contains many postings by parents across the country whose children have taken and passed the Kent Test with high passes. They are seeking advice on whether they will get places at the super-selectives and will then deign to consider moving to Kent to take up these places. Kent parents seeking places in their local grammar schools will and should be incensed by such practices.  

The new tests are to be set by GL Assessment, who have produced KCC 11 plus tests for some years, which will come as a surprise to many, for this format is one that has been used by another organisation, CEM, a rapidly expanding assessment group. GL Assessment produce test papers for sale, but KCC made it a requirement in their tender that main test material must not be available for purchase.  It therefore remains to be seen whether we will see practice material in the future claiming to be aligned to the Kent process, especially as KCC intend keeping access to test content restricted. 

 

 

Last modified on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 22:02

2 comments

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 29 October 2013 23:34 posted by Ned

    So, CEM Centre - Centre for Evaluation & Monitoring at Durham University lost the tender. PETER: They certainly did not win it! Were they competing at the end?

  • Comment Link Friday, 25 October 2013 13:06 posted by Jane Robertson

    Thank you Peter

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