Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

Thousands of schoolchildren will know the score at weekend

Tomorrow 13,700 pupils will receive the results of new transfer tests. Education Correspondent Kathryn Torney reports on the details parents need to guide them through the transfer maze

What the scores/grades mean and how Ulster’s schools will determine their intake:

AQE schools:

Thirty-four schools are using results from the AQE exams as their first criterion.

Over 7,000 pupils sat these exams at a cost of £35 and their scores will be measured against the performance of other children who sat the Common Entrance Assessment tests.

Three tests were offered but only the best two scores will count. The scores will range from 55 to 145 with the average score set at 100.

Scores will be adjusted to take account of age. The scores will be split into five bands. The top band are marks greater than or equal to 113, this is followed by 106-112, 98-105, 88-97 and, finally, less than or equal to 87.

The results will be accompanied by other information sheets on the marking process, special circumstances and the process of applying for re-marks.

The schools signed up to the AQE tests — which are mainly grammars — are using one of three different methods to determine their intake.

Some schools will simply list the pupils in rank order of their scores and take, for example, the top 100.

The second method is similar to the old 11-plus — for example, take all pupils in first score range and then use other non-academic criteria if oversubscribed within second band of scores.

The third method involves schools taking say first 100 of 150 places based on scores alone. Then they will create a pool of pupils (the size of which has been decided in advance) and will apply other non-academic criteria to all of this group to select for their final places.

GL assessment schools:

The 6,700 pupils who sat the GL answered multiple choice questions in two papers on one day mainly at Catholic grammars. Their English and maths papers were marked by computer.

Pupils will be awarded a grade similar to the 11-plus format — A, B1, B2, C1, C2 or a D. They will also be given their raw score for English and maths, their Standardised Age Score (SAS) which takes account of children's ages when they sat the exam and national percentile rank (how they performed compared with the other candidates) for both papers.

Some schools will select pupils based on their score, others will use the grade — check each school's admissions criteria.

The SAS for each paper is given as a number between 69 and 141 and the average score is 100. The grade boundaries, based on minimum combined SAS, are a minimum score of 235 for an A grade, B1 (230), B2 (225), C1 (220), C2 (213) and D (138). Some integrated and controlled schools have also opted to run with the GL tests.

Victoria College:

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, said pupils will be admitted by considering the percentile ranking in the particular assessment sat.

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.

If there are more within a band than places available, other non-academic criteria will be used.

Secondary schools:

Secondary schools are using non-academic criteria to select pupils if they are over-subscribed.

Only 15 schools are following the Education Minister's guidance calling for free meals entitlement to be used as their first criterion.

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