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Would you raise this with the school?

(18 Posts)
LordTrash Wed 24-May-17 18:47:10

OK, deep breath, I'm probably being precious but I'd really appreciate opinions on this.

My dc school (secondary) is allowed to select 30 pupils every year on the basis of academic ability. They sit an 11+ type test and the top 30 get through.

In September, this becomes 2 'top set' classes, made up of a mix of 30 test sitters and the 30 brightest kids who entered via catchment/sibling rule etc. (Test is only open to non catchment/non siblings.)

Dd1 took the test and got in. Dd2 got in the year after on the sibling policy and was placed in one of these top 2 classes.

Now, dd2's year has instituted a G&T type programme for 5 identified high achievers. The way they identify these high achievers is by looking at the results of CAT tests sat by the whole school in September.

It seems obvious to me that this will favour those children who did the 11+ type test in y6 and practised with Bond books etc. for weeks beforehand. All the other kids have never done tests of this type.

Surprise surprise, the five who were chosen (all boys btw) had all sat the 11+ type test. However, we were told at parents' evening that dd2 is in the top 3 in the year for all academic subjects across the board - but she is not deemed to be a 'high achiever' because her CAT scores were lower than those of these other boys.

Unsurprisingly, she has found this rather demotivating!

Now, while I don't think she actually wants extra work (grin) and I don't want to be 'pushy G&T parent' about it, do you think it's worth raising the issue of familiarity with the CATs format when assessing who is a high achiever with the school, for future reference if nothing else?

I can't believe this didn't occur to them, to be honest. I'm not miffed exactly, but I can understand why dd2 was disappointed not to be included and I'd like to feel this won't happen to another child next year.

LittleMissCrappy Wed 24-May-17 18:53:33

Yes I think you should. It's a stupid policy, and I can't believe they don't realise that it's the children who have been coached to do well at a test (privately tutored most likely) who will do well, not the naturally talented children.

irvineoneohone Wed 24-May-17 21:42:07

Reading some secondary thread, I thought streaming with cat test score was quite common in secondary school?
(But I have no clue about 11+.)

Witchend Thu 25-May-17 23:21:44

I thought CAT scoring was meant to be raw intelligence rather than tutored for or rewarding hard working?

It may be that your dd2 whereas she's performing better in class and for homework is a better worker.
But the others could be have a higher IQ.

I know for my dc, dd1 is a really hard worker and will outstrip dd2 when it comes to homework and classwork etc because she puts 100% of effort in all the time, whereas dd2 only puts in enough to get through unless it interests her. When it comes to that sort of test they're very similar, I think they got pretty identical scores on CAT tests. You wouldn't guess that from how they perform from day to day.

JustRichmal Fri 26-May-17 08:09:10

I would definitely question this. The message they are giving to the whole year is that to be really intelligent you have to be male.

Of course CAT scores can be improved by practice.

LordTrash Fri 26-May-17 08:35:34

Thanks, all - they are due to get reports soon, so I'll query it with the head of year as part of my response to that.

Witchend, the tests are identical in format to those sat by the 30 academically selected pupils - some verbal reasoning and some non-verbal reasoning. My older dd sat the selection test and did well when we first started practising, but very well after a few weeks of going through the book - so in my experience, they aren't tutor-proof.

I also definitely want to raise the point about no girls being selected!

steppemum Fri 26-May-17 09:12:29

I am not sure I agree with you.
In my experience year 6 is a round of working to the SATS tests, loads of test practice, loads of workbook practice very similar to the 11+ stuff, so any child who has been through year 6 has had a lot of experience of this sort of testing.
I wouldn't have expected the 11+ students to have that much of an advantage.
My dcs go to grammar school and they do CAT testing at the beginning of year 7, if it was the same as 11+, then they could just use the 11+ scores of the kids. But the CAT test sis supposed to be a good measure of potential. (but I agree, you can improve scores with practise)

I don't like their system, it is odd to be saying You are in the top 3 and at the same time saying You aren't clever enough.

I also find the idea that they are grading the kids like this (top 3, where are you in the group etc) really unhelpful for the kids and pretty demotivating. After all, you can be stronger at one aspect of a subject and weaker at another aspect, let alone subject to subject.

LordTrash Fri 26-May-17 09:38:44

Yes, steppemum, don't even get me started on how this affects children with spiky profiles. Dd1 gets high VR scores, but is only a bit above average on NVR, so would obviously never be a contender hmm.

I only have dd2's word for it that the selection is done solely on CAT tests - it might be more sophisticated than that. But I'd still like to know!

The position in the class thing was only told to us at parents' evening without the dc present - I don't think they read out results to the group or anything like that.

My memory of dd2's y6 SATs was lots of reading comprehension, grammar and maths but nothing resembling an IQ test or the type of thing you get in Bond books. They were certainly wholly unfamiliar to dd1 when she first saw one around the beginning of y6.

irvineoneohone Fri 26-May-17 19:39:36

Those who has been chosen as a results of high CAT score, do you think they got high score because they were coached?

I just wonder, even if your dd is all round high achiever, is she at gifted level? Real outlier from her peers?
I say this because I was all round high achiever, but not gifted in anyway. My sister was. And I could she real difference in ability even we were getting similar grades. I was a hard worker, she never did any extra work.

Lowdoorinthewal1 Fri 26-May-17 19:54:09

What exactly is the benefit of being in this G&T group?

I think it's odd practise to be labelling kids, especially so early. I guess your school think growth mindset is a fad, eh OP? But surely they would be wanting to give all kids access to academic enrichment opportunities if they want them- not just to the chosen few who happen to be able to blitz VR/NVR tests.

My DS can ace VR/NVR tests, but I think it goes with being a bit on the spectrum and being an avid pattern spotter. He's totally lame at some other things. I don't know why a school would label a kid academically 'worthy' based on such a narrow measure.

irvineoneohone Sat 27-May-17 07:03:37

Lowdoor, I think the benefit of being in G&T group specialise in something depends on what kind of school dc goes.
If I remember correctly, your ds attends good school that stretches able children.
My ds sounds similar to yours, bit on the spectrum, pattern spotter, lame at others, and real outlier in one subject, but not been stretched at all. So if he can be in programme concentrated on his strength, that would be ideal.

JustRichmal Sat 27-May-17 08:31:45

I do agree the outliers should be stretched, I really would question though if all the outliers in a school year happened to be boys. Is there some problem in the surrounding primaries of girls not reaching their potential? Or is it a blip of this year and other years have even had more girls than boys?

Dd is not on the spectrum, but still aces NVR and VR, getting 141 for NVR in the 11+.

irvineoneohone Mon 29-May-17 13:44:34

JustRichmal, I just can't see any school would exclude girls just because they are girls, unless they used to be traditional boys school or something.
Or is it typical thing which happens in England that I am not aware?

JustRichmal Mon 29-May-17 17:36:17

I do not doubt their results were lower . It does just seem odd that the top five students all happened to be boys. I know the probability of this is only about 1 in 30, so it must happen that in some years the top 5 are either all girls or all boys. However, if it does happen year after year that the at the top are boys, it would need questioning why the system in that school is failing girls. The NVR and VR tests can be practised for, so why are the boys getting better practice than girls? Also, if I were head teacher there, I would look at taking the top 6 say, so that at least one girl was in the group for that year. Otherwise, you are in danger of setting out the message to that year group that only boys are really intelligent.
Depressingly the number of females going into stem subjects at university is low and I do wonder where and how girls get the message science is not for them .

PiqueABoo Tue 30-May-17 22:25:03

a G&T type programme for 5 identified high achievers.

That's the first interesting thing. Is that number fixed or is it the number who got above some threshold? If it is fixed then what if this year's top five are less bright than last year's top ten?

Then there are error bars, the margin of error, which could have changed a top five if the CATs were taken on a different day when this child had a bad hair day and that child got lucky with a few questions.

That they're ignoring achievement and just looking at CAT scores for their programme seems very stupid because it's quite obvious that the education game depends on both intelligence and industry i.e. a bit less clever but more hard-working may well beat clever and stubbornly lazy.

I think there are limits to the benefits of training, but there is research saying NVR is susceptible to technique/strategy. VR less so, presumably because that has a significant dependency on a child's life to date and it's not easy to quickly compensate for poor vocabulary etc.

It does just seem odd that the top five students all happened to be boys.

It does seem odd, but here's a local fact that amuses my DD (who jointly shares first place with a boy): since the start of secondary the four consistently best achieving/performing mathematicians since in her 220+ Y9 cohort haven't changed and they are all summer-born.

That's two boys and two girls. At a large scale, much larger than one school where it can get a bit random, you should get roughly two girls to every three boys at the top of the curve for 11 year-olds. Ditto for the bottom of the curve.

PiqueABoo Tue 30-May-17 22:28:34

mathematicians since in her 220+ Y9 => mathematicians in her 220+ Y9

KeepFuckingGoing Mon 26-Jun-17 06:09:52

If they are choosing the top 5 scores, so what if they are all male? Do you expect them to put a couple of lower scoring females in there to even it out? That attitude is so damaging to feminism. They have achieved the top 5 scores. Therefore, they are selected. Of course it doesn't give them the idea that only males are intelligent! If it does you are failing as a parent as you obviously haven't discussed this issue and made sure your children understand it was score based,not gender based.

I am female by the way.

DandelionAndBedrock Mon 26-Jun-17 06:29:42

As a teacher, I would be having a really awkward conversation with SLT about why no girls made it, and be expecting that to be a target for subsequent years with that cohort - so maybe your DD will find herself getting a bit more attention in a different way.

I would query it, I don't think it can hurt. Having said that, is it definitely something that is open for everyone? Might it perhaps be designed for boosting the academic profile of pupil premium or something?

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