We now have over 1000 individual teachers in the NAACE/TLM baseline testing Google group with more joining each day. 580 schools have made accounts on the web site and 40,000 pupils have been tested with between 1500 and 2000 per day adding to the total. Not bad for an idea that started last May with a post in a CAS forum. At present we are just doing Computing focused on the 10 to 15 age range (although some teachers and support staff are also taking the test). There is demand to move down to primary and to extend to maths and science. We are planning to do this during the coming year starting with KS2. Our international partners are also interested so we will take this global as soon as we can work out the logistics for language translations and server capacity.
Why is baseline testing of interest?
Finding out what children know before and after formal teaching is a rare opportunity. Computing is a new subject and is therefore an ideal target for collecting empirical data. With a simple test we should be able to determine what children know, where there are general widespread deficiencies on which to target teaching and whether individuals and departments are making faster or slower progress than their peers over a period of time. We will also be able to determine whether a cohort is stronger or weaker than a previous cohort, whether boys make faster progress than girls, which subjects students find easy and difficult. We are also making available free evidence management, progress tracking and reporting tools so that optionally schools can support formative assessment and on-going progress monitoring through the programmes of study as well. This is particularly relevant to tracking progress post levels and reducing the administrative overhead on teachers while maintining the flow of good quality information.
So why free?
The reason to make these things free is to lower barriers to entry and encourage take up. The greater the participation the more valuable the data is in terms of scope for analysis and feedback. We need a statistically valid sample of the national data if the resource is to be of maximum value to the individuals in the community using it. This is a situation where the more that join in the better it is for everyone. The on-line systems have already been developed and they are in use to support other paid for services so there is no big overhead in making them available for this purpose although that could change when we go international. In addition we are providing a focus for teachers to enrich their own learning in cloud based systems which must then have a beneficial spin off for pupils. There is also free membership of NAACE as an added value for participation.
How to participate
To participate add your e-mail address to the Google Group ask for an account by clicking on sign up on the INGOT Markbook watch the 7 minute video of how to set up your pupil accounts. Visit the Computing Resources web site for further background.
You can see the current breakdown of the statistics and this is only a beginning. We will produce tables with a question by question analysis, generate progress profiles for pupils and departments that will be confidential to the school while using the aggregated data eg to make comparisons between cohorts or perhaps countries. PISA does not enable anyone to join in, with the baseline testing anyone can check their progress against live national and international data. Our first priority was to get some data before any significant teaching started. Now that has been accomplished we are looking at providing useful information to schools from the data in a form that is easy for them to understand and use. We do real time analysis so there should be no administrative overhead. We just need a little time with the help of the community to refine the process.