Baseline and Baseline Progess support

Baseline and now brand new Baseline Progress enables teachers to assess children on entry to school (Reception/P1/Y1) and measure their progress in literacy and mathematics at the end of the same year.  Both assessments complement our existing assessments for primary schools, which together support schools in benchmarking, tracking progress and target-setting throughout primary school, from Reception to the end of Key Stage 2 (P7/Y7).

Frequently Asked Questions

What experience does GL Assessment have with the early years?

We provide a number of assessments for use with very young children, developed with specialists including teachers, SENCOs, Educational Psychologists, health visitors and speech and language therapists. Our early years assessments include:

  • The Schedule of Growing Skills - the UK’s leading child development measure.
  • The Wellcomm Toolkit - developed with Sandwell Primary Care Trust to help teachers address language difficulties in children aged 6 months to 6 years.
  • The York Assessment of Reading for Comprehension - developed by specialists in the psychology of reading at the University of York, specifically to help teachers understand and support young children’s reading.

Baseline represents a coming together of established, reliable assessments for young children in a single overarching assessment. Each element was developed originally by experts in literacy, mathematics and language and communication.

I don’t agree with the principle of testing 4 and 5 year olds. Why would I choose Baseline?

We don’t agree with the principle of a formal test, either.

We’ve always been clear that Baseline is not that kind of assessment; there’s no pass or fail, and it should never be used in isolation. Instead, it’s designed to complement what Reception teachers do already by offering reliable quantitative data that is not routinely available for Reception.

Children at our pilot schools were genuinely excited by Baseline. It is delivered one-to-one using tablets and has been designed to be enjoyable rather than a formal assessment. Watch our video from Priory Rise school to see what we mean.

Baseline is the only Reception baseline assessment offering touch-based questions. It is delivered using separate tablets for the child and teacher, meaning children aren’t distracted by teachers marking their responses. The teacher controls the audio and test progression so Baseline can be delivered at a pace to suit the individual child.

How do you design an assessment for such young children?

Our solution with Baseline was to have a fun, engaging and child-friendly format that creates a positive experience within the daily routine of the Reception classroom. Children sit side-by-side with their teacher, each holding a tablet, and go through a short, simple and enjoyable set of exercises.

When designing assessments for young children, it’s extremely important to keep things low key from the child’s point of view. The assessment should be as fun as any other activity they do in school – ideally, they shouldn’t even realise they are being assessed.

The dual tablet format facilitates one-to-one pupil/teacher interaction and the teacher can choose to carry out the assessment in up to three short sessions (up to 25 minutes in total) to meet the individual needs of the pupil.

As our videos show, the children in our pilot enjoyed the experience and the teachers liked the fact that it can be used with different members of staff, while still ensuring consistent results.

What do schools say about Baseline?

We worked with 50 schools during the autumn term 2014 to collect data on a sample of 1560 children in England – the basis for standardisation. 500 children were reassessed to ensure reliability and consistency. EAL pupils constituted 18% of the sample, which is nationally representative.

So, what did they think? Here’s what they said.

Rhys Penny, Senior EYFS/KS1 Teacher, Cedar Road Primary, Northampton: 

“I feel very strongly that how you carry out an assessment is of crucial importance, especially for such young children. There is no need for them to be aware that an assessment is taking place. I want it to be a positive experience of doing something fun for the child, while their teachers monitor their progress.

One of the most distinguishing features of GL Assessment’s Baseline assessment is its format. Unlike any other assessment I’ve seen, it’s carried out on two tablets – one for the teacher and one for the child. This is a simple yet ingenious approach. Of course, tablets are beginning to be more widely used in schools now, but many younger children still associate them with playing games. Using a tablet-to-tablet format gives the children the impression of something fun and exciting – in other words, in-line with the other types of activities we do here.

It all helps to engage the children. As part of the pilot, we tested 22 out of our 60-strong cohort, but all the children were intrigued and kept asking, ‘When do I get to do that? Can I have a go?’” 

Lianne Morrison, Head of Early Years Foundation Stage, St Christopher’s School, Hove:

“The technology is fantastic. All the children were thrilled to be presented with a tablet and looked forward to their turn. The visuals and the fact a voice spoke to them really held their attention.

When a child comes from nursery, we’re often told about all the things they can do, for example that they have a rich and varied vocabulary, but children don’t always demonstrate this until they are comfortable in their new setting. With Baseline, we get to know their abilities quicker, and it feels more measureable, more specific than by observation alone.

Grace Shaw, Early Years Foundation Manager, Datchet St Mary’s Primary Academy:

“Making a baseline judgement for each child is currently very time consuming and must be carried out by one person to ensure the assessments are consistent. With this assessment, however, children can work with different members of staff to complete their baseline and you are ensured quality, accurate and consistent results.”

We are a cluster of local primaries. Can we compare results across our schools?

The simple answer is ‘yes’!

Baseline offers a suite of detailed reports including a Cluster Report, which can be used to compare a group of schools against each other. This can be for a whole LA, academy chain, teaching school alliance or any network or group of schools.

In addition to the Cluster Report, Baseline offers a suite of reports to support and inform early years practitioners including group and individual reports for teachers and a report specifically designed for parents. Individual reports offer tailored narrative to identify what specific support and intervention each child might need. The full suite of reports includes:

  • A Group report for teachers
  • Individual pupil report for teachers
  • Individual pupil report for parents
  • An Excel report
  • A cluster report

Download a Baseline sample report

The cluster report offers analysis by gender, ethnicity, Pupil Premium and SEND, and shows each school in the cluster with the average Standard Age Score set against the national average.

Our preferred way to monitor young children is teacher observation. Why would I choose Baseline?

Baseline in no way intends to replace teacher observation and teacher judgement. Baseline empowers practitioners to get information over and above what can be gained through observation alone. In essence, it supports and complements the observations of teachers who know their pupils the best. As one Early Years teacher put it, "It's the perfect objective complement to teacher judgement."

To make a real difference, Early Years practitioners need to be able to accurately identify each child's strengths and potential difficulties. Observation over time is incredibly important, but it is not the only way to gain meaningful information about what support a child needs. Good practitioners will triangulate their observations with other information and that’s where Baseline has a positive contribution to make. Baseline is not a formal test; there’s no pass or fail, and it’s not designed to be used in isolation. But what it will provide is reliable, quantitative data that is not routinely available to Reception teachers – and this is powerful information to have.

We are concerned about how to share results with parents. What do you recommend?

We identified the need to communicate effectively with parents early on. Many of our pilot schools were worried about how much to share and how best to communicate the outcomes of the baseline assessment.

Baseline offers a detailed report for parents, which includes an overview of their child’s results and some narrative to help give the data more meaning. We have removed some of the detail from the teacher reports, but included plenty of rich information for parents, including how they can support their child’s learning from the outset.

Baseline offers a suite of reports including group and individual reports for teachers and a cluster report enabling comparison of groups of schools. Download a Baseline sample report.

How will you address the birth date effect?

An important issue when we designed our Baseline was how to address the developmental gap between summer born children and their older peers – the birth date effect.

Our solution was to accommodate the birth date effect by age standardising Baseline. In other words, we took each child’s age into consideration during our Baseline pilot and incorporated an age adjustment to results, based on a tried and tested model. This end result of this process is a Standard Age Score and we will provide this in our Baseline reports alongside the DfE’s requested scaled score.

The DfE does not require baseline assessments to include this adjustment for age, however given the difference in age of the children in Reception classes, we think it will be a very useful reference point for schools. At a glance, you will be able to see how your pupils and cohorts compare to children across the UK of exactly the same age.

As a number of primaries use standardised assessments from Year 1 onwards, it will also help schools who want a solid, reliable way to track progress from Reception upwards. Standard Age Scores provide a fair comparison between different assessments, regardless of differences in test difficulty, length or when they are taken.

How does Baseline link to EYFS?

The assessments within Baseline cover aspects of development that need to be secure for pupils to make good progress during Reception and towards the end of Year 1.  So for example, in the speaking and listening goal for end of Reception children should be able to ‘use talk to organise, sequence and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events’.

To be able to do this, children’s knowledge and use of several aspects of language as assessed in Baseline needs to be in place. In mathematics across Reception to end of Y1, children increasingly have to count and subtract (beginning with objects), use comparative language, name shapes, identify missing numbers, and tell the time; Baseline offers a basic and appropriate view of skills and knowledge at the beginning of Reception that will enable children to make good progress. 

If Baseline demonstrates that the foundations required are not in place, then an intervention can be made at the earliest opportunity.

How long will it take to run Baseline with the 30 pupils in my class?

On average, Baseline takes no more than 25 minutes per pupil, so we would expect you to complete testing for 30 pupils in around 12 hours. You control how quickly Baseline is delivered, so you can make sure each child is able to go at their own pace. You can also choose to run Baseline in one or multiple sittings, so it’s flexible to suit the needs of you and the children in your class.

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