Baseline Line Assessment at Start of School

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Baseline Line Assessment at Start of School

Post by Elizabeth » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:34 am

It has been announced that the new reception baseline assessment in England is to be developed by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER). A baseline assessment for four and fiver year olds is controversial. See more details at

I am not sure whether it will be useful, neutral or cause problems.

I do not share some of the fears of some of the critics. I do not think a well-designed assessment run by sensible teachers will upset children. Most young children love attention from their teacher and enjoy showing what they can do. I am glad it will not depend on teacher assessment, which is too subjective, can be stressful for teachers and can take too much time away from more useful activities.

Instead, I have two main concerns:

First, will it skew what happens in nurseries? The effect on what happens before the assessment is a problem with all baseline assessment, whenever it is done.

Second, it is bound to mean delay in establishing routines and teaching.

If teachers start teaching phonics before the baseline assessment has been completed, the results will be affected by that teaching and will no longer be baseline. The point of a baseline assessment is to record what children know before teaching begins, in order to measure progress.

Young children feel secure when routines are established early and continue predictably. If adults are busy assessing children, they might not be concentrating on settling them in and establishing routines. Either children will be left to play without adult interaction while the adults do the assessments with individual children as quickly as they can, or the assessment of every child will take too long and teaching will be delayed as teachers do make sure they settle the children in and establish routines.

When children start school they are excited about what will happen and some of them will have been told that they will learn to read. A daily routine phonics lesson from the beginning means quick success as the children find they can read words independently. Those of us who have seen adult-led interactive phonics lessons for reception children in happy schools, or have heard children talk about these phonics lessons, will know how much enjoyment and satisfaction children get from them. It would be a pity to lose that early start.

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