How Good are my Children at Reading? Use this Baseline Assessment Booklet to Find Out!

baseline assessment

Why Baseline Assessment?

Your Little Learners have arrived in your classroom, they are happy, settled and all very different! You need to meet their needs but in order to do that you need to find out what their needs are. Some children may have come to school straight from home, some may have had previous nursery experiences, some may have language difficulties, some may have been born in the summer and some in the autumn. The possibilities and permutations are many and endless.

One thing is for sure, all children can’t be treated the same. It is necessary to get an idea of their starting points, previous knowledge, understanding and experiences. This is part of the reason why we need to carry out a baseline assessment.

The other reason that we carry out a baseline assessment is to show and ensure progress. There would be no point in offering learning experiences in areas where the children are already confident. They need to be offered learning experiences that will offer consolidation and opportunities for new learning. Having a baseline assessment will give a good indication of what these opportunities should be.

How to Use the Baseline Assessment Booklet

Assessments can be carried out in any number of ways. A favourite one is observation in the Early Years as it allows you to see what the child confidently knows as well as their personality and characteristics of learning. However, this method is very much led by the child and it can be difficult sometimes to assess very specific areas in which you simply need to know if the child knows the information or not away from any distractions.

The baseline assessment booklet can be used with both methods depending on what it is that you are assessing. It is divided into the three sections according to the new Development Matters document – Birth to Three are referred to as Young Children and then there is a section for Nursery children and Reception children.

Each section of the reading assessment/phonics assessment has questions pertinent to the requirements outlined in the Development Matters document. For example, we would expect young children to have a favourite story or nursery rhyme. By positioning yourself in the book area and having such conversations with children you will find this information out.

You can also note how they interact with stories and books either mentally, written or electronically. The information can then be transferred to the booklet. Recognising letter sounds or a logo before someone else tells them the answer may need to be done on a one to one basis and can again be recorded in the booklet.

There are supplementary resources to allow you to complete the questions on rhyme and alliteration as well as notes for further guidance.

Completing the baseline assessment

You would want to complete the baseline assessment within the first few weeks of the children starting school in order to get an accurate assessment. The majority of the assessment involves a tick or one or two words to write and so is relatively quick to complete.

I would complete this assessment in a particular colour of pen so that when you revisit the assessment to track progress you can use a different colour. It is up to you how often you revisit the assessment. You may want to leave it until the end of the year and use it as a transition document ready for the next class or you could revisit at the end of each term to monitor progress more closely. You will need to decide what works best for you, your children and your workload.

What the baseline assessment says

Looking at the baseline assessment booklet and seeing what children can and can’t do will allow you to make a judgement on their ability. There are a number of ways you can record this depending upon what you will need from the judgements. The simplest way would be to record whether the children are on track or not. To be on track, you would expect children to be working within their age band and not the age band below.

If you want to break it down even further, you could have those children that are on track, those working below and those working well below. Those working well below may indicate your SEND children. If you are using the baseline assessment in nursery you could add in a category for those children working above as well. This all very much depends on how much detail you need and what you feel will be useful.

I have included some free example sheets for you to download and use. Simply add the children’s names to the correct column. You could even adopt a system which would indicate a child moving to another column e.g. write their name in green if they have moved up a column and in red if they have moved down a column. You will be alerted to the red names and be aware that you need to put strategies in place to monitor those children more closely.

Involving parents in your baseline assessment

When children start school parents will often have valuable information to share with you regarding their children’s abilities and there may also be things that they can work on after that initial meeting with the school in the summer. Visit my blog 10 Things to do to get Ready for School in September for a free booklet to share with parents of both nursery and reception children which outline important skills that they can work on with their children over the summer holiday.

Parents complete the booklet and from it you will be able to see which skills the children have become accomplished in and which skills still need some work.

For a copy of the baseline assessment on reading visit my teacherspayteachers store or my tes store.

You may also like my maths baseline assessment booklets which work in a similar way to the reading booklet.