The effectiveness of any kind of teaching intervention is knowing the impact it has had - in short, you need to know what your children were like before and after. This is no different for learning number facts and something we strongly encourage at Flurrish - in fact, schools that use our software are at a significant advantage in this regard given that we record all questions answered by each and every child. This is evidence for the child (to help them improve), evidence for the teacher (to focus learning strategies), evidence for senior leaders (to determine progress of each child), evidence for governors (to hold senior leaders to account) and evidence for Ofsted (to clearly demonstrate good practice).
Baseline testing is something we have assisted Caddington Village School in developing and we now strongly advocate. So, what should you do and how should you do it?
Test Type: unequivocally, randomised testing across all 12x tables should be used. This is your knowledge standard and should be measured against. Within our Number.fy app this means using the "random 20" game.
Number of Questions: the more questions children answer, the better your estimate of their knowledge. This then determines how long testing will take - children that have poor number fact knowledge will take ~2 minutes per blocks of 20 (the "game" has a built-in maximum length of 5 mins). That means about 10 minutes for testing which would fit within a 30 minute lesson.
When: testing should be undertaken as soon as is practical at the start of the school year so you have a real understanding of their knowledge at the beginning.
Data: this takes the form of the percentage correct per child. This is currently not available as a direct download from our results website (although it's top of our 'to-do' feature list!). Some schools calculate this for themselves or ask us to do it - we are more than happy to send you the results for your pupils pre-calculated. Just contact us.
Reporting: results can be reported in tabular or graphical form. For anonymised presentation, class data can be aggregated and used to produce summary statistics (mean, minimum, maximum) and box-and-whisker plots - the latter are particularly effective as they visually show the distribution of number fact knowledge, highlighting where the class is and any children that are significantly different from this.
Baseline Testing is an essential part of developing a teaching culture of measuring the impact of interventions (and selecting the ones that work), but also being able to understand the progress of each and every child, producing a nuanced knowledge of how they learn. The charts below are an effective starting point as you can see how many children have played (n), how many questions they answered (Qs) and how many questions per pupil (QpP). At a glance you can see that both classes are similar in terms of cohort and performance, although the top class has a pupil with very low achievement scores. Valuable knowledge at the start of the year.