Bad Baselines

At the start of a school year, it is common for class teachers to set a baseline task. These serve to inform the teacher of next steps, and to illustrate progress later in they year. But they are often deeply flawed.

After six weeks of forgetting, new classrooms, peers and teachers, sometimes even new schools, pupils’ performance drops considerably. It isn’t a permanent drop: generally, pupils quickly catch up to where they were. This isn’t progress – it’s just warming-up.

So, be careful. If your baseline shows that your class doesn’t remember anything they were taught last year, the baseline is probably wrong and you don’t need to start from scratch. Instead, reheat the knowledge, let them get back in to the swing of things, then do your baseline. Find out what they can really do and start from there.


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