Last week I blogged about our Year 8 assessments. I set out the principles we follow when we write our Key Stage 3 assessments, and I shared examples of the questions that challenged our highest attaining students.
Today's post is about Year 9. My school's Year 9 cohort has a very wide range of maths attainment, which was further exacerbated by the lockdowns in Year 7 and 8. One notable feature of this year group is how incredibly good the high attaining students are. The top set teacher finds it hard work to sufficiently challenge them in lessons. So when I made the end of year assessment, I had to ensure there were plenty of questions in there to make them think. I don't want anyone coming out of a maths assessment bragging that they found it really easy.
Here are some of the more challenging questions from our end of Year 9 assessment.Ratio
A more difficult ratio question was this one from Edexcel, which also tested another Year 9 topic: changing the subject.
The ratio (y + x) : (y - x) is equivalent to k : 1.
Find a formula for y in terms of k and x.
This question was my pièce de résistance. I figured that if our super clever Year 9s breezed through all the other challenging questions I threw at them, they would surely have to stop and think at this point. This SQA question is designed to be solved using the Sine Rule. But our students don't do the Sine Rule until Year 10. This question can be done with right-angled trigonometry. The way I did it was by splitting the base into x and 350 - x, then forming two equations for the height and equating them. Even if our students managed to get this far, solving the equation would be fairly challenging for them because they haven't seen anything like this before.
As it happened, none of our Year 9s managed to solve it in the way I envisaged. But one very smart student came up with a genius (albeit inefficient!) method of trial and improvement. I yelped with joy when I realised what he'd done:
It's such a delight to see students using creative approaches like this.