NFER Reception Baseline Assessment
The practical, child-friendly baseline assessment
Background information: assessment principles and review of research
Review of research
Competence in early mathematics is crucial for later school success. The development of the mathematics tasks of the NFER’s Reception Baseline Assessment has been based on research which examined good predictors of success or difficulty in this area. The relationship between early number competence and later mathematical achievement has been well established (Aunio and Niemivirta, 2010), and there is clear evidence to show that the ability to identify numbers is related to future numeracy skills (Wright et al., 2006). Similarly, counting skills, such as number-word sequence skills and an early understanding of relations in shape, order or quantity and general number knowledge have been found to be good predictors of later performance in mathematics (Aubrey et al., 2006). There is also increasing evidence that an awareness of mathematical pattern and structure is crucial to mathematical competence (Mulligan and Mitchelmore, 2009) and that mathematical reasoning is a strong predictor of mathematical achievement (Nunes et al., 2011). This includes children’s abilities to understand and make relational statements, compare, classify and understand one-to-one correspondence and seriation.
Communication, language and literacy
There is increasing evidence that language development is central to a child’s ability to access the curriculum (Bowman et al., 2000) and in the development of literacy skills (Nation and Snowling, 2004). The assessment of language and communication skills is therefore a key feature of the NFER Reception Baseline Assessment. Receptive language (language comprehension) and expressive language (language production) are assessed through carefully designed tasks based on developmental models of language. Broader language skills are assessed through a communication, language and literacy checklist which is completed by the teacher. Literacy is assessed both through tasks and an observational checklist. The development of these has been underpinned by research which has shown that two sets of skills contribute to reading: word recognition abilities and language comprehension abilities (Oakhill et al., 2003; Muter et al., 2004). To assess these skills, the tasks are designed to measure phonological awareness, vocabulary knowledge, grammatical skills, single word reading ability, the ability to draw inferences and the understanding of story structure.
Foundations of Learning
The optional Foundations of Learning Checklist aims to provide a holistic view of the child’s abilities and development. It is based on research which shows that self-directedness and persistence (Copeland et al., 2004), attentional orientation and curiosity (McClelland and Cameron, 2011), social and emotional skills (Durlak et al., 2011) and the development of motor skills (Pienaar et al., 2014) are all important for development and learning.