Along with the Heads of most Primary and Infant Schools in England, we await Dame Tickell's report into the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum with bated breath. By the time any new EYFS Profile is ready for use, though, we could all be dizzy from asphyxia: so in the meantime, how can we measure a pupil's progress through their Reception year?
Admittedly I'm no expert in child development, but I do know more than is healthy about measurement and data. I will argue that any meaningful method of measuring progress in some area of learning must have:
- A baseline or on-entry score expressed on the same scale as the assessments made after that
- A measurement scale whose steps are small enough to see even slow progress in as little as a term
- Widely-supported agreement on the amount of progress that should be expected on that scale
Only a method like this can be used formatively, e.g. for spotting children who are "stuck" in some area of their learning. If you're unconvinced, ask yourself how you'd understand a child's progress in Language for Communication if given an FSP score like 5, 6, or 7 and a baseline of "40 months"; or how you'd distinguish among the children in a Reception class when almost all of them made "3 points" in Physical Development?
If you're using Incerts for recording in Reception/FS2 then you've cleverly dodged these problems. Incerts expresses baselines (recorded at the end of Nursery or the beginning of Reception) on the same 0-9 scale it uses for assessment through Reception; and it combines the small steps you can record in each area and subject (using our "beginning"/"developing"/"able" boxes in the standard profile or the extra "dotted" boxes in the extended Bright Profile) into scores like 5.8, 5.9, 6.0, etc. rather than just "6 points". There's broad-ish agreement that the difference between the scores at the end and the beginning of Reception should be 3 points in each area, and Incerts might tell you that one pupil's progress was 2.9, another's was 3.1, etc.
Recently, we've designed some charts that show the progress of the children in a Reception class rather nicely, comparing each child's score with an on-entry score and drawing a coloured bar that makes its way towards a "bulls eye" target and turns green when it gets there. Here's the top-left corner of one:
Schools in England can see charts like this when they output to Excel from the Class View page with a Reception/FS2 class selected. For the moment, the End of FS2 Target values must be typed into the column manually before the coloured bars will appear, but in the next version we could create these targets automatically with a formula (adding 3.0 to the On-Entry Score) or allow them to be uploaded into Incerts at the start of the year (like the Fischer Family Trust targets for year 6).
I haven't seen a method or tool I like better than this yet—specifically for showing progress through Reception. If your school has been recording Foundation Stage data in Incerts this year, and you recorded last July or September/October to give a baseline, do try out these charts and share your thoughts with us.