Baseline 2.0

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The Baseline Test will soon have a 5th version of the test, which means that the "Class of 2014" have just started the final phase of KS3.  We have one more test in April of 2017 which will mean a test every 6 months for the 2014 KS3 process.  The creator of the test, Ian Lynch, is sadly no longer with us and I did not have enough conversations with him to know his medium or long-term plans.  When he first proposed the idea, he thought that "tens of thousands" would be a decent sample size.  As I write this, we are getting 1,600+ students taking the test each day and currently over 151,000 in total.   Ian would be extremely pleased with this.  He would also be looking to make adjustments though.  A small number of teachers on other forums have made comments that the tests are too hard in places.  This is a fair comment in some ways.  Ian was a great believer in getting the best out of students and his tests did always err on the tough side.  Having said that, the test is supposed to cover all of KS3 and in some ways, students in KS3 should also be capable of doing KS4 material.  Some of our schools have students passing the L2 exams with good marks in KS3.   Since Computing has now been part of the curriculum since September 2014, this should be the case in Computing as well.

The basic intention of the test was to gather historical data and any other elements would be icing on the cake.  At the time of development, there was an urgency which meant it was not possible to spend huge amounts of time agonising over the content.  TLM was waiting for other organisations to step in, but they were clearly not capable and in true Ian style, he just did it.  While this was good, in terms of the timing, it did mean that any problems would need to be left alone.  Once running, the test needed to be consistent to ensure that the data over time was consistent.  Therefore, if there were problems with parts of the test, they needed to stay there.  If parts were a little bit hard, or down to individual interpretations of the KS3 POS, they were left alone to make sure that everyone took the same test over time.

Now that we have a huge amount of data, perhaps it is time to reflect on the test and make any required changes going forward,  My thinking is that we can make the test more community based so that people using it can submit questions based on their own experiences and these can be incorporated into the tests going forward.  This will need to be taken into consideration going forward as it will not be tied to the historical data, but at least it will provide more responsive data for teachers to make decisions.  Not that this can't be done as it stands, but the test was devised for a specific purpose and with an individual interpretation of the KS3 POS.

Therefore, if anyone is interested in this approach, please contact the office and submit your details.

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About the Author
Started work for TLM in August 2014, having known Ian Lynch for many years and collaborated on a number of open source projects and initiatives. Working with Moodle for a number of years after teaching IT to A Level for 10 years.

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