Thursday, November 13, 2008

Entrance exam

Having an entrance exam or pre-test for new students creates an opportunity to discover a lot about a new student. In low socio-economic schools it is very common to have transient students that pop in and out of schools often result in being ejected due to behavioural issues. I am told this is a requirement in other states, but not so in WA.

Transient students typically have little in the way of past reporting and schools can be cagey or lack solid information (especially if it is a local school referring them) about their ability and attitude to schooling. The need to immediately settle these kids into class and give them age and skill appropriate work is essential to establish good working routines and break the cycle. If they don't settle quickly they can ruin a carefully constructed class that is working and reduce it to behavioural problems.

The exam we wrote for year 9 (mentioned here), could be used as an entry test for these kids. It would be an indicator of attitude and ability. As it is two hours we could watch their progress through the test and monitor their attitude to work. The results of the test would give an indication of their skill level. This would remove some of the guesswork and misleading information that can sometimes be put forward by parents that overestimate the skill level of their student. It would also be fair - as it is aimed to be one of the main criteria we use for the initial streaming in year 10 being an exam for completed year 9 coursework. It would also note any key deficiencies that need attention.

As the exam is easy to mark, it could be done by the year coordinator and be free of teacher and parental bias.

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