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Andreas Schleicher, AQE, Belfast Newsletter, Danny Kennedy MLA, Danny Kinahan MP, Department of Education Northern Ireland, dodgy dossiers, GL Assessment, John O'Dowd, Martin McGuinness MP, Mervyn Storey MLA, Michelle McIlveen MLA, NewsLetter, Northern Ireland Assembly, OECD Pisa, Parental Alliance for Choice in Education, Peter Wier MLA, PISA, private members business, Professor Svend Kreiner, Sammy Wilson MP
A challenge was made to John O’Dowd, Northern Ireland’s education minister to refute his error borne out of reliance on so-called international evidence provided by OECD Pisa data. The Minister has failed to respond. The minister is wrong and remains so.
The letter above was published in the Belfast Newsletter on Friday, November 6th, 2015.
When Sinn Fein education minister John O’Dowd deliberately used the term “dodgy dossier” in respect of transfer testing during Private Members Business in the Assembly on Tuesday, he reversed the truth.
The minister cited international evidence, based on Pisa scores, that selective education fails children.
Astoundingly not one of the unionist politicians present challenged the minister on the facts.
In a peer-reviewed analysis of that evidence, Professor Svend Kreiner wrote of OECD Pisa:
“Most people don’t know that half of the students taking part in the research do not respond to any reading items at all. Despite that, Pisa assigns reading scores to these children.”
In short, Pisa admit that they don’t measure curriculur content or attainment.
Therefore they cannot make an assessment on selective education systems.
Do the politicians who failed to tackle Mr O’Dowd or those schools participating in OECD Pisa not understand that half of the children in the minister’s research were assigned scores for tests they didn’t even sit?
Does anyone in Northern Ireland know of any pupil receiving an AQE or GL Assessment score without taking a test?
With children about to sit the first transfer test tomorrow, it is a pity that those assigned with opposition to the minister’s ideological campaign agaist selection did not challenge him on Tuesday.
If those politicians and their advisors won’t apologise for wrongly traducing the current transfer system, Mr O’Dowd should, on their collective behalf, make clear that it was he who was quoting from a dodgy dossier.
Parental Alliance for Choice in Education, Antrim
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Special warning notice to parents considering these schools.
Dualling schools are Victoria College, Wellington College, Campbell College, Lagan College (not a grammar school) St Patrick’s College, Downpatrick, and Antrim Grammar.
In order for your child to gain admission to these schools it is likely that they must have taken BOTH the AQE and GL tests. Dualling schools use some non-transparent method to place your child in a band. Evidence has been obtained that a significant number of pupils will be misclassified. Can you really afford to take this risk?
Now read this post for the details and suggested actions http://wp.me/pateI-CN
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The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education wish to pass on their congratulations to all pupils who received results today from their efforts in taking transfer tests last November.
Today is a time for celebration, recognition and relaxation.
No doubt parents and family will be asked and may themselves be asking a multitude of questions about the next phase –“ will my mark or grade be sufficient to gain a place at a grammar school. There can be no immediate answer to that course of enquiry, it will only end when the admissions process is completed.
Unfortunately every year since the Department of Education withdrew the transfer test, the Minister of Education and his misinformation campaigners have sought to sow seeds of doubt about the popularity of the system which filled the vacuum.
Politicians and the media fan the flames by making unhelpful, ambiguous or ignorant statements and/or publishing opinion pieces about the tests. They also stray onto the curriculum, coaching or teaching to the test, and most egregiously pretend to support parents and pupils, all the while pushing the anti-selection, anti-grammar school line.
Take this example from the BBC in 2012 quoting First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson of the Democratic Unionist Party.
Another example is the mixed message editorial from the Belfast Telegraph in which Mike Gilson invites ridicule over the number of pupils taking the tests.
But this move by the department is a nonsense in any case. Last year some 10,000 pupils took the unregulated AQE and GL Assessment tests despite opposition from Education Minister John O’Dowd.
The shambles is that Belfast Telegraph readers are expected to believe a figure cited which is 4,500 lower than the combined record entry of 14,531. Where did Mike Gilson come up with this number? – The DENI? The BBC? The Detail? The Inspectorate? or is it simply a figment of his imagination?
How about the “analysis” of Lindsay Fergus? On November 17,2014 she wrote in The Belfast Telegraph
Parents and schools both appear to have confidence in the system.
….Yet Ms McIlveen (DUP MLA and Chair of Education Committee) is right- we need one test. No test would be better……Not only would one test spare those pupils who do opt to sit both assessments having to undertake five papers, it would create uniformity.
It is time for those opposed to parental choice and academic selection by attainment testing to admit defeat in their ideological campaign.
Like it or not, parental support has remained constant since Martin McGuinness’ Household Survey of 2002. There will be no acceptance of a comprehensive system in Northern Ireland and the wasted taxpayers’ money spend by anti-grammar school groups should be put back into traditional classrooms.
Well done to all those who received results today.
There are no failures in trying.
Since the introduction of the “unregulated” transfer tests there has been a frensy of activity by those opposed to parental choice in attempting to raise stress and anxiety before results day.
Much airtime and column inches in the media is devoted to this predictable charade which is aimed at attacking the very principle of parental choice.
PaceNI are delighted to announce a solution for all those political, media and educationalists who have been unable to deliver their ideological promise of a comprehensive education system for Northern Ireland.
PARENTS HAVE BEEN CURED OF THE CANCER OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN TRANSFER TESTING
It is conventional in medical practice that when a patient has been treated for malignancy with the best possible combination of available therapies and absent any evidence of recurrence or persistent disease they are told they have been cured of the cancer. A cure means that treatment has successfully eradicated all traces of a person’s cancer, and the cancer will never recur (return). A cure does not mean, however, that the person will never have cancer again. It is possible that another cancer, even the same type of cancer, will develop in the person’s body at some point in the future. In testing terms, the same can be said of the 11-plus trasfer tests in Northern Ireland. So long as parents demand that politicians keep out of the issue then pupils will have access to a choice which will suit their individual needs.
It is meaningless to refer to ability independent of tests. Children don’t have ability independent of testing no matter what the ill-informed anti-selection advocates will tell you.
If pupils are taught to the test (bear in mind that GL Assessment have questions that are IQ test questions which are not appropriate) then the tests are measures of attainment in mathematics and English/Irish.
If primary school teachers teach to the test they are assisting in delivering equity. The effect of additional out of school coaching is therefore minimised.
If primary school teachers fail to teach to the test then the curriculum, as it stands, damages the life chances of the poor and disadvantaged. Absent such teaching it is little wonder there is widespread underachievemnt.
It is important to ask a simple question – Who are pupils and teachers accountable to?
(1) Department of Education theorists and the Inspectorate.
(2) Schools as structures, business, management and administrators
The answer will always remain the same – parents.
Where transfer testing is concerned the evidence is clear despite the efforts of opponents to mischaracterise the issue. Parental demand for the tests has risen, not declined. There have been no successful legal actions despite the promise of Caitriona Ruane. The idea of a “Holy Grail” single test has been tossed out by politicians,including Peter Robinson, but cannot be delvered since the real outcome desired by the Catholic Church is to end all testing – a nightmare for getting votes.
The return of transfer testing to an anti-selection DENI under the control of CCEA would result in an end of testing in a short time. This would allow the Catholic authorities to achieve their goal of ending selection, not in their own right, but by ending parental choice for everyone. A “Win-Win” in the eyes of other anti-grammar groups but clearly something that they have been unable to achieve in principle or practice for their sector alone.
The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education has been contacted by parents over the weekend concerned and upset that their child has received (1) a wrong results/mark and (2) wrong gender and date of birth information.
This affects the PPTC and GL Assessment tests. This is not the first time the GL Assessment multiple choice, computer marked assessment offered by the Post Primary Transfer Consortium has come in for criticism. Previous problems include leaked tests, the source of funding and technical errors with the use of Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines.
A parent has claimed transfer test papers were leaked by a member of staff at a Catholic grammar school last year, ahead of children sitting the unregulated exams.
It is an allegation which the chairman of the Catholic Principals’ Association, Fintan Murphy said,
if substantiated, this would undermine the integrity of the whole unregulated transfer system.
Previous concerns were raised over the funding behind the provision of the PPTC “free test”. An FOI by PaceNI uncovered the fact that the GL Assessment were being paid by the PPTC via “parental contributions” It was never made clear how parents were solicited to make these contributions.
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Good luck to all the pupils waiting for their transfer test results. The children and their parents/guardians are to be commended for their efforts. The children, not least, for being willing to have their numeracy and literacy skills tested and excerising their right to compete for a place in a grammar school. The parents/guardians for supporting the efforts of those schools determined to deliver the equality of opportunity that a transfer test affords. 2013 is the forth year that the “unregulated” tests have been organised and delivered to the highest of standards and it is testament to those who have resisted the determination of an Education Minister hellbound on removing parental choice for a grammar school education to match the needs of their children.
It is important when the results are known not to fall into the annual trap generated by opponents of selection by stressing over the marks or grades (these always remove information and should not ever be compared to the old CCEA grading system) obtained by the pupil. Expect and resist the rumour mill but instead arm yourself with the knowledge that until the admissions process is completed no one can issue a guarantee of a place at any grammar school. The marks/grades from previous years may give a reasonable indication of a school’s 2013 intake but do not be put off in listing a preference because of something someone has told you “on good authority” or “inside information”. Remember that Open Enrolment has resulted in about 42% of post-primary pupils getting a place in a grammar school.
In making a selection of preferences it is important to take into consideration future plans for the schools. There is little benefit in choosing a school which in a short period will no longer be a grammar school. The school is unlikely to inform you of their change in direction, after all they are competing for your child and relying on their marketing efforts. Your child will not benefit in the long run. Forty plus years of research evidence and data on attainment shows that mixed ability schools generally produce lower attainments at GCSE and A-Level.
Add to that the negative impact of the revised curriculum and the entitlement framework and the Education Minister's insistence in breaking parity on examinations with England and this year's cohort of parents making vital decisions on behalf of their children must be sure of their choices.
Specific information on schools will follow
Back in May 2011 UTV broadcast a story of parents reporting the leaking of the 2009 GL Assessment 11-plus test in a Catholic Grammar School.
According to the Belfast Telegraph of Tuesday 13th December,2011
“It is understood the school at the centre of the scandal, which has not been named, [why not since the school committed a breach of contract?] photocopied the 2009 GL Assessment English and maths papers, later used as a practice paper to prepare some children for the 2010 transfer test.
Copying the papers was in contravention of the school’s contractual agreement with the English-based GL, which is responsible for the tests’ content.”
Note in the UTV extract the statement from Fintan Murphy of the Catholic Principals Association.
On foot of this story GL Assessment issued a Press Release. Note the claim from GL Assessment that:
If this allegation is substantiated it would constitute a breech of security and copyright by the school involved
Today, after months of delay, Education Minister, John O’Dowd released the findings of his so-called investigation into the matter of those given the test in advance of the 2010 PPTC transfer test. There is no doubt that those who saw the 2009 paper had an advantage. As usual the BBC NI Education Correspondent, Maggie Taggart, entirely missed the fundamentals of this issue and gave the Minister’s nonsense views precedence over the failure to hold to account those responsible for valid and reliable testing. Perhaps parents are failing to appreciate the abject failure of the professionals in education to get to the core of issues involving very serious matters concerning their childrens future. The important message in the BBC report demonstrates the arrogance of the educationalists position.
“A claim that the 2009 test had been leaked could not be investigated because those involved wanted to remain anonymous”
UTV broke a story on the unregulated transfer tests http://www.u.tv/News/Transfer-tests-leaked-to-parents/aa9483bf-7684-4e40-926a-e18574a0ab69 UTV decided only to mention this development on their website thereby robbing parents and pupils of an opportunity to ask pertinent questions of their school principals and teachers.
At present GL assessment have yet to deny the growing belief that questions appearing in the 2009 test may re-appear in the 2011 version. If this turns out t be the case the validity and reliability of the PPTC sponsored test is destroyed.
Parents will recall PACE’s previous warning about the lack of specification for the GL Assessment test
The timing of this story (found only on the UTV internet site) is typical of the multiple cynical attempts to manipulate and stress parents by those opposed to academic selection. Did it really take a year to discover what many insiders knew last year about the validity and reliability of the GL Assessment Tests commissioned by the PPTC?
PACE has highlighted the lack of a specification for the GL Assessment test. Perhaps Mr Ronnie Hazzard of the PPTC will rush to deny this assertion by his friends in the Catholic Principals group?
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. https://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;
GL Assessment spokeperson
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?