April 11, 2013
May 28, 2011
The PACE NI site has been subject to sustained cyber attacks over the past three months but is now in a position to return to the blogging arena. We apologize for the loss of service and wish to thank all those who have offered or have provided support and practical assistance to combat the efforts of others to prevent the flow of commentary.
Readers can expect to see a series of posts on the pre and post election landscape with an emphasis on education matters.
For those subscribers devourng the revelations on CCEA’s spending then the next few weeks will provide worthwhile reward for visiting the PACE NI site.
November 18, 2010
The Irish News http://www.Irishnews.com (Thursday November 18, 2010) has further highlighted concerns already raised by PACE NI on the GL Assessment tests to be taken by thousands of pupils seeking places in Catholic grammar and a few schools this weekend. http://paceni.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/aqe-and-gl-assessment-testsattempts-to-confuse-parents-over-a-common-test/
GL Assessment have admitted that the questions used from their inherited bank of NFER questions could be recycled, i.e. resold elsewhere. Simon Doyle, education correspondent, strangely fails to explain to Irish News readers the nonsense statement from GL Assessment that their unwillingness to release past papers was simply;
“In order to maintain the security and integrity of our tests”
GL Assessment spokeperson
the important principle addressed in testing circles – the vaidity and reliability of high stakes tests.
No mention at all by the Irish News or GL Assessment or the Post Primary Transfer Consortium of any measures of the validity and reliability of any inferences to be drawn from the tests.
The PPTC are directly misleading parents in their claim that the PPTC GL tests are based on the Northern Ireland Key Stage 2 revised curriculum. Since the tests were not designed exclusively for Northern Ireland and predate the introduction of the revised curriculum such a claim is unwarranted and misleadng. This issue underscores the difference between the PPTC GL tests and those of AQE whose CEA test questions match the former 11-plus tests prepared by NFER. It also highlights the nonsense claim published in the Belfast Telegraph regarding Victoria College’s use of the two tests to determine admission. There can be no equivalence between the two tests. Victoria College are simply pandering to parents from two different communities in order to keep their application numbers up.
Of course those adopting the inferior GL Assessment tests have persisted with the false claim to parents that talks to agree one test are likely to achieve a positive outcome. There is absolutely no likelihood of that happening since it was the anti-academic selection PPTC who broke away from the AQE in the first instance with a GL Assessment test to counter the fear that Catholic parents would abandon Catholic grammars if testing was withdrawn. Parents should note the continued silence from Finbar McCallion of the GBA who appeared regularly over the summertime on the airwaves of the BBC promising resolution of the single test conundrum.
Parents may need reminding also of the PPTC’s failure to adhere to standards in relation to testing by their refusal to publish the specification of the GL Assessment test. Prior to Saturday’s tests parents are advised to contact their school to demand a copy of the specification. Any refusal to provide same may provide a basis for appeal if entry to the school was ultimately rejected. Ronnie Hazzard of Ballymena Academy and the PPTC has persisted in his refusal to supply a copy of the specification to PACE in response to an FOI request. Can parents have any confidence that their childrens’ interests will be best represented by a school which fails to comply with the FOIA law?
November 11, 2010
Last December The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education published an article highlighting the costs of the Education And Skills Authority (ESA). http://paceni.wordpress.com/2009/12/10/esa-the-real-costs/
On Saturday November 6th, 2010 the Irish News ran the front page headline;
£2 million waste of schools money on ESA staff.
Two million pounds is a mere fraction of the waste incurred by this stealthy body. No use by Simon Doyle, the Irish News Education Correspondent of the term “double-jobber” to describe Gavin Boyd the ESAIT chief executive and chief executive of the problem ridden exams board, CCEA.
Frank Bunting northern secretary of the teachers union INTO rushed in to create a heirarchy of losers.
” Yes it’s a waste of money but the bigger waste of money is that ESA has not yet been established…Everyone is a loser.”
Frank Bunting INTO
Perhaps Frank has forgotten his script to the Stormont Education Committee from March 25, 2009 when he said;
“in the interests of efficiency, establishing the ESA is basically a dream come true.”
Frank Bunting may need some remedial numeracy training and careful teaching of accounting principles.
Frank Bunting INTO
February 6, 2010
UPDATE for 2011. Visit the page of February 4 on the cautionary tale of exam results by computer. http://paceni.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/exam-results-a-cautionary-tale/
Today saw the delivery of results for the two very different tests used to determine entry to grammar schools. The AQE test and the GL Assessment tests. The AQE results were delivered efficiently and effectively but the GL Assessment results encountered some difficulty with attendant stress for pupils http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/breaking-news/uk-ireland/school-exam-results-delivered-late-14670533.html
AQE CEA Tests
Three tests were offered with the best two scores counting. Most applicants took all three tests. The scores range from 55 to 145 with the average score set at 100.
Scores were adjusted to take account of age. The scores will be split into five bands or quintiles. The top band are marks greater than or equal to 113, followed by 106-112, 98-105, 88-97 and, less than or equal to 87.
Within each quintile fall 20% of the scores obtained by the total number of candidates – so 20% of scores fall between 145 and 113, 20% between 112 and 106 and so on.
Only once all transfer applications have been processed and places allocated will a school be in a position to publish how the application of admissions criteria arrived at final admissions decisions.
There is not a direct relationship between each quintile and the traditional Transfer grades. The advice of PACE is that parents should use the Transfer form to put down their chosen schools in order of preference rather than trying to anticipate whether or not the score is sufficient to gain admission.
It was never the intention by AQE that transfer grades (A, B1, B2, C1, C2) would be applied as CCEA did with the regulated transfer test results. Anyone suggesting otherwise is misleading you and should be challenged as to the source of their information. Parents have been conditioned into talking about grades as if they represent some form of ranking but this is not the case. A score of 123 is not the same as 113.
Admission to a grammar school based upon strict rank order is the fairest method. However some grammar schools have adopted different criteria and it is here that parents and pupils are likely to run into difficulty and may be misled. Parents should check the admission criteria published by each of the grammar schools to which the pupil has applied for admission.
The second method claims to be similar to the old 11-plus (it is not)— taking all pupils in first two score ranges (quintiles) and then using other non-academic criteria if oversubscribed within the other bands of scores.
The third method involves schools taking a proportion of available places e.g. 100 of 150 places based on scores alone. Then a pool of pupils is created (the size of which has been decided in advance) and the school will apply other non-academic criteria to all of this group to select for their final places. (social selection) Such schools undermine the principle of equality of opportunity and the purpose of the AQE CEA test. Parents should exercise caution in applying to these schools for admission since they may attempt to rely upon information from the primary school which is unreliable. Some schools have asked parents to access this information on their behalf. PACE recommend that such requests are refused.
Schools using the third method include Inst and bangor Grammar School.
The GL Assessment Tests
The GL Assessment tests are completely different. The questions were multiple choice and marked by computer. To highlight the misinformation campaign mounted by supporters of the GL Assessment campaign (remember the Catholic grammars and others refused the opportunity to use the AQE CEA tests) it has been reported that remarking can take place. If any educationalists can suggest how the computer can remark a test paper designed to be read by a computer and issue a different result PACE would be delighted to investigate this AI device. Claiming that GL Assessment remarks are “free” underscores the attempt at deception. It will recalled that the GL Assessment tests were” free” to applicants but as yet the identity of the philanthropists paying GL Assessment’s bill has not been made public. Interestingly no political party, educationalist or investigative journalist from the local media have even investigated the matter.
Today’s Irish News makes mention of Standardised Age Scores (SAS). Simon Doyle, their education correspondent must not have access to Google or other search engine because if he did he would have immediately discovered that the correct term is Age Standardised Score (ASS). If the Irish News education correspondent does not know the difference between an ASS and the SAS, readers should not rely on his counsel on important education matters It will be of great interest to learn where GL Assessment obtained their standardised scores from. Was it from template? Where did the norms come from?
Attempts to link the results of GL Assessment tests with CCEA grades only further complicates the issue but the most complicated situation of all arises at Victoria College, Belfast where pupils are to be admitted on the basis of results from both tests. The school Board of Governors was warned about the problems by PACE but refused to accept the advice.
Victoria is the only school in Northern Ireland admitting pupils using the outcome of both AQE and GL tests. Dr Darrin Barr, the school’s deputy head, has said pupils will be admitted by considering the percentile ranking in the particular assessment sat. The AQE were queried by a school principal who was concerned whenever a percentile was given as a decimal such as .68 It will concern parents to know that numeracy problems extend to primary school principals not just the pupils. Ms Slevin the principal has rightly stayed silent.
In the case of an applicant who sat both assessments, the higher percentile rank will be used. The first pupils to be accepted will be those with a percentile rank of 60 or above.
This must be the most egregious use of an apples to oranges comparison. The two tests have no useful comparison properties.
If there are more within a band (B1 and B2 are five marks apart) than places available, other non-academic criteria will be used.
Age Standardised Scores
Parents with concerns over test result information should contact PACE at email@example.com
In a poor attempt to convince parents of their effectiveness the DUP have misinterpreted the significance of a statement by Father Ignatius McQuillan recently published in the Irish News http://www.irishnews.com/articles/540/561/2009/7/20/622952_388069193305Exambanw.html
In a mandatory coalition executive dependent upon mutual cooperation to avoid collapse the DUP must be seen to be outdoing their Sinn Fein partners. As history has revealed the DUP’s effectiveness in tackling anyone with their own developed strategy is virtually non-existent. Sinn Fein’s destruction of grammar schools has been aided and abetted by token opposition and slick slogans.
While the conflicted anti-academic selection position of the Catholic Bishops in Northern Ireland has been sold to the media on social justice and moral grounds that is clearly not the disclosed position for Catholic schools in England where two very high profile campaigns to save Roman Catholic grammar schools have been initiated by headteachers and parents working together.
There is no evidence of ”growing opposition” to non-selective schooling. Such opposition has been constant since the first attempt to remove the 11-plus. If academic selection is to be ended it must be applied to non-Catholic schools at the same time as Catholic schools lest Catholic parents move their children to non-Catholic grammar schools. Unfortunately there won’t be enough room for all the applicants. Social selection will replace academic selection. Perhaps Mr Storey should consult his East Antrim MP friend Sammy Wilson about the parental pressure group STOP. This pressure group petitioned the Catholic bishops to restore the regulated “interim” CCEA test abandoned by Caitriona Ruane in February. The campaign resulted in a complete failure to change the minister’s and the bishops’ position yet not a meaningful cheep from the loud and vociferous MP.
Mr Wilson will know of Mr Storey’s involvement as a member of the Board of Governors at Ballymoney Model Primary School. Despite his senior position in the DUP and access to communication tools Mr Storey was unable to prevent a teacher led plot to convert the school to integrated status.
If Mervyn Storey, Sammy Wilson and the DUP had been fully involved in opposing Sinn Fein’s strategy to remove grammar schools they would have been aware that Ignatius McQuillan, like the late Monsenior Denis Faul, has always opposed the anti-11-plus, anti-grammar position of the hierarchy. Unfortunately the Catholic Church is not a democratic organisation and the power rests with the Irish Catholic bishops. The DUP were made aware of the loss of social mobility when grammar schools were removed in large portions of England but choose to keep silent on the issue. The DUP were made aware of the negative impact of the revised curriculum project inflicted on Shankill Road primary schools but stayed silent. Diane Dodds MEP was the DUP’s representative for the Shankill. The DUP were made aware of the potential disaster that ESA would bring under the former CCEA boss, Gavin Boyd, but predictably did nothing to prevent his rise to power.
Perhaps Mervyn Storey will now disclose the results of his meetings with Cardinal Brady and contrast the Cardinal’s position with that of the stated DUP position on the 11-plus and academic selection to grammar schools. Perhaps they are not too far apart?
The Irish News headline the meeting in Belfast of primary school principals angered by the DENI led chaos over transfer arrangements. Their unions have organised the gathering during a critical time of the summer term in an attempt to influence political representatives.
The meeting and subsequent media coverage are a last ditch effort to prevent grammar schools using unregulated tests to determine admissions. As usual misinformation and ideology are at the heart of the union’s claims.
The BBC Education correspondent quotes Brendan Harron of INTO
“This is forcing schools to consider abandoning the revised curriculum,” he said.
When primary school principals claim that preparation for the numeracy and literacy tests are outside the revised curriculum they are entirely wrong. The DENI have confirmed to PACE that the numeracy and literacy elements of the curriculum are the same as before. This information has also been shared with the BBC education correspondent via e-mail. It has come to a sad state when the figureheads of primary schools and journalists resort to mistruth at a time when parents and pupils are already stressed by the uncertainty introduced by the Minister and the DENI.
Since the ending of the 11-plus has been known about for seven years, the failure of the educationalists to introduce a valid and reliable replacement tells parents all they need to know about their union’s ideological campaign.
An example of the nonsense pitched by INTO tells parents how little faith they should have in the judgement of principals.
INTO senior official Brendan Harron said there was “a sense of outrage” among primary principals about the state of affairs regarding transfer 2010.
“Primary principals were very angry at the lack of direction from their employing authorities on this difficult issue,” he said.
“On the one hand they were being warned by the minister and the department not to deviate from teaching the revised curriculum and on the other hand they are being pressurised by parents of P6 children to prepare their children for the forthcoming unofficial, independent entrance tests. (also known as the numeracy and literacy component of the revised curriculum)
May 12, 2009
Letters like this must be difficult for the Minister of Education to read, given her failure to deliver a better solution to post-primary transfer.
May 10, 2009
It is a shame that none of the expert educationalists could have written a letter of this relevance over the past ten years. Perhaps the Emperor has been naked for a decade.