Modern 11-plus is no mean feat

20th February 2004 at 00:00
In your article (TES, January 23) on 11-plus tests, Rev Aelwyn Roberts examined papers from 1921 to 1949, and concluded that "the standard has deteriorated greatly". He even smelt a conspiracy to conceal modern papers from scrutiny.

The article says that the 11-plus now consists of maths, English and verbal reasoning papers, but in fact, most tests are verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning. Only a minority of local education authorities and schools give a maths test, and there is little use of English tests.

The feature is misleading because it does not compare like with like. For example, the maths curriculum in 1930 consisted only of pure and applied arithmetic. Nowadays, key stage 2 pupils also have to understand a wide range of topics such as geometry and spatial relationships.

Finally, most of the questions in the modern-day tests are harder than the three taken from the practice papers that were quoted.

Neil Hagues

Principal research officer

Assessment and Measurement Department

National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)

The Mere, Upton Park

Slough, Berks

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