Given that the NGSA is the only body representing parents in the fight over retaining grammar schools it may be of benefit to Northern Ireland parents to join the NGSA as Associate members or Friends of Grammar Schools.Visit http://ngsa.org.uk and follow links on the home page. Registering your support costs nothing and will make sure you are kept informed. Those parents of children confused over the results of recent unregulated tests may particularly benefit from membership. Please note that the NGSA is not a group dominated by the selective interests of heads and teachers such as the GSHA, AQE or GBA
It will come as an unwelcome surprise to Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron to learn of the results of an ICM poll on grammar schools.
The Daily Mail http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1249765/85-young-people-want-grammar-schools-created.html focussed on the fact that “85% of young people want more grammar schools created”
C2k, CEM at Durham University, DENI Press Releases, deputy secretary of the Department of Education, Foi requests on education, Incas, Incas assessment, Robson Davison, Sparklebox, University of Durham
For those parents suggesting that Incas assessment scores should be used to determine admission to grammar schools instead of objective testing of attainment- a note of caution from PACE.
When the problems surrounding the expensive CEM software failures were first raised in late 2009 PACE obtained confidential communications from the Incas team to CCEA using the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ( FOI).
“What we would like to do is to extract the relevant files from the schools’ file servers automatically without having to contact the schools directly. We understand that C2k can access files on the schools’ file servers directly. If we can have these files forwarded to us, perhaps through some secure ftp method, we can update schools’ feedback without them knowing there were any problems.”
“It is also worth noting that the subscale scores are for information for teachers, not for parents.”
The Department of Education also cautioned against Incas.
The deputy secretary of the Department of Education, Robson Davison, wrote to the chairs of the board of governors and principals of schools setting the new entrance exams.
“It is important that I remind schools that such practice would be an inappropriate use of outcomes from an assessment tool that was neither designed nor intended for such a purpose.”
He also told them there were problems with the scoring awarded to pupils in InCAS because of a computer error.
“The department’s advice is that on no account should grammar schools consider using InCAS assessment outcomes reported to parents to inform decisions on selection.”
So while parents are crying out for accurate information on the results of transfer tests they are being kept in the dark by unaccountable educationalists profiting from testing activities.
and a further concern ….
Sparkebox link to DENI and C2k
Sparklebox was originally blocked in late 2009 by councils. Concerns over the sites security were cited in an email to teachers explaining the block. Originally many teachers were confused and some angered over the block, as it was a site that many relied on for essential classroom resources. Kent County Council issued a statement confirming the block, “we feel it right to block the site centrally until more information is available and review whether this site should be blocked permanently after consulting schools and other sources.”
It seems that the Minister, Caitriona Ruane, her Department and computer infrastructure team, C2k must not have accessed the internet in early January otherwise they could not have missed the following post http://www.neowin.net/news/main/10/01/14/uk-schools-blocking-sparklebox-as-owner-is-a-paedo
Are you confident in your child’s security with computers at school or reassured by the Minister’s statement?
The Code of Practice on Access to Government Information is a non-statutory scheme which requires Government Departments and other public authorities to release information in response to specific requests. The Act creates a statutory right of access, provides for a more extensive scheme for making information publicly available and covers a range of public authorities including schools and colleges.
Bangor Grammar School in County Down failed to answer a Freedom of Information request made on Monday 21st December 2009 made by The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education (PACE) on pupil attainments in examinations
. The legislation http://www.opsi.gov.uk/ACTS/acts2000/en/ukpgaen_20000036_en_1 allows 20 working days for a reply to issue. The response can include information such as directing the queries to other sources, issuing a partial answer, citing legal exemptions to the request for information.
No such rely was received. Bangor Grammar School has now joined the company of other schools who seem to have failed to have learned the lessons given by their Education and Library Board’s FOI officer on their duties and responsibilities.
This disturbing information is made public to parents to take into consideration when seeking information about how the results of transfer tests such as the AQE Common Entrance Assessment or GL Assessment are to be used to determine admission to a grammar school.
It may be helpful for parents to familiarise themselves with the admission criteria to Bangor Grammar School. Given the school’s choice of the AQE CEA test ( a rank ordered approach) as the instrument to determine admission, the citation of the Minister’s Free School Meal criteria seems to indicate that two horses are being ridden.
To sum up: the School seeks to give due consideration to the constituents who have traditionally been part of the community which the School has served and which it reflects in its ethos; it also wishes to give weight to the Minister’s desire that schools should seek to restore the imbalance in access to post-primary provision caused by social disadvantage. To achieve this in its practice and procedures, the Board of Governors has decided that there should come a point in the selection process when pure academic ability as measured by a score in the AQE CEA as the sole criterion should be balanced against wider considerations. It has therefore resolved that, in principle, up to 90% of its admissions number should be determined by rank order in the AQE CEA and that the remaining 10% should be allocated primarily by means of the non-academic criteria.
Its choice of 90% is determined by the pattern of admission over the last three years, 2007 to 2009, when, on average, 92% of its intake was composed of pupils who had achieved a grade A or B in the Transfer process. The remaining 8% was typically drawn from pupils who had achieved a C1, of whom there were more than there were places available within the admissions number and to whom, therefore, the non-academic criteria were applied. To broadly replicate the position which obtained within the model of selection offered by the Transfer procedure up to and including 2009 and to sustain, therefore, continuity of process, the Board proposes to create a ‘pool’ of applicants drawn from the next pupils in strict rank order after the first 90% have been placed, the size of which is calculated as twice the number of places available and which will be approximately equivalent to the C1 band. Restricting the pool to this number will be more likely to ensure that all will be academically competent, while at the same time giving priority to socially disadvantaged pupils and acknowledging the School’s sense of community as represented by those groups listed in the non-academic criteria.
Perhaps instead of giving weight to the Minister’s desire the Principal should concentrate in compliance with the law.
15. This enables an applicant who is not satisfied with the response by a public authority to a request for information to apply to the Commissioner for a decision on whether the authority has acted in accordance with the provisions of the Act. Subject to certain conditions, for example, the exhaustion of other means of complaint, the Commissioner is under a duty to reach a decision.
Age Standardised Scores, AQE test results, Belfast, Belfast Telegraph, CCEA, GL Assessment test results, Irish News, Northern Ireland transfer tests, Simon Doyle, Standardised Age Scores, Victoria College
UPDATE for 2011. Visit the page of February 4 on the cautionary tale of exam results by computer. https://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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsnight Scotland has highlighted hitherto unreported figures in the government’s own Survey of Achievement which show primary teachers consistently overestimate how well their pupils are doing.
In recent years, teachers thought their children would be three times better at science than subsequent tests revealed. In maths, P7 teachers were twice as optimistic as reality. And in reading, teachers thought their P7 pupils would do one and a half times better than the eventual test results. The Scottish Survey of Achievement also shows primary teachers have little confidence in their ability to teach science – even though it is a key part of the government’s new Curriculum for Excellence.
The findings could represent an opportunity for the government – because it has the potential to shift the debate away from class sizes to something that really determines the quality of a Scottish education: the quality of the teachers themselves.
The Scottish government is now setting up a major review of teacher education, which will start work next month. It will have access to a series of findings which cast further doubt on the quality of Scottish primary education – and the teachers who deliver it.
Source: BBC Education http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/8484180.stm
These findings lend support to concerns raised by PACE on the overestimation of teachers estimates of pupils’ progress at Key Stage 3 on the elements of numeracy and literacy https://paceni.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/northern-ireland%e2%80%99s-key-stage-3-literacy-levels-crash/
Unfortunately for parents in Northern Ireland the BBC and print media did not cover the story. The DENI or CCEA also failed to offer a comment