James Coombs demands transparency in 11-plus exam results.
A Father questions son’s 11-plus exam results
James Coomb, a father to a ten-year-old boy, feels anxiety as his son is about to take the 11-plus exam. Mr. Coomb is pretty confident with his son’s academic prowess, always a part of the top-performing students in his class.
But the results went out just differently as expected. His son, who was a top performer at primary school, apparently failed the exam. The dad seemed puzzled and surprised with the results, and now he plans to dig in further with the exam scoring process.
Mr. Coomb now questions the credibility of the exam:
How can a mutiple choice exam give such precise assessment of a child’s intelligent scores?
Working in the IT field with a hunch of data science, Mr. Coomb was the type who wouldn’t let down a situation just that easily without a rigid explanation. The father then issued a query to the school, and he demanded transparency in his son’s exam results and urged others to do the same.
Eight years after…
The 11-plus exam4 incident wasn’t expected to last eight years or more. Mr. Coomb’s son did well in his education despite the incident, he got excellent marks for his GCSE, and was recently being offered a course in material science at Oxford University.
The father’s fight for information transparency still continues and is seeking more help with the use of the Freedom of Information Act. He requests for data transparency in the raw scores from the exam that the students take.
The Center for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) is one of the agencies in charge of conducting the 11-plus exam in grammar schools. Based on their scoring standards, results do not purely rely on the written exam itself, and they include external factors like the month of birth and others that are not known to parents.
This is the kind of transparency that Mr. Coomb demands from the exam bodies to release since it can cause different speculations and possible biases. Some speculations arise that CEM is purposely allowing more students from outside Buckinghamshire to pass and limit local students.
Since 2014, CEM has denied access to their raw data, citing that they are excluded from the Freedom of Information Act since it conflicts with their commercial confidentiality.
Mr. Coomb’s fight for data transparency lives on, and he believes that test providers should be liable at some point in assuring parents that exam results are not manipulated.