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Why we recommend against setting up your baseline as an assessment period


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We've written this post after we've spoken to quite a lot of settings who have decided to add an assessment period for their children's baseline scores. This sometimes is because they haven't realised there is a dedicated screen for baselining the children already (learn about this here), or because they believe it will suit their needs better. We have found that, more often than not, creating an assessment period called 'Baseline' causes more confusion than it is helpful. 

Here we explain the reasons why we encourage settings to use the 'Baseline Screen' integrated in Tapestry instead of creating an assessment period for this purpose.

  • Tapestry automatically creates a baseline score for each of the children based on the assessments added via observations during the three weeks after the first observation with an assessment was added for them. The baselines can be manually changed, though, as often you might not cover all areas of learning during those first three weeks, or because the assessments added are not a true reflection of where the children are on their baseline scores. This automatic filling in can save you time and also set you on the right direction when baselining your children.


  • Using the Tapestry baseline screen allows you to have baseline running parallel and simultaneously to an assessment period. This means that during the time your baseline is running for, the assessments you make not only contribute towards the baseline but also the assessment period this falls within. Imagine that your first period - Autumn 1 - should run from the 1st of September until the 19th of October. If you were to create an assessment period called baseline you would either have to start it in August and have it run until August 31st, or you would eat into the Autumn 1 period. By using the Baseline Screen, you can have two different sets of assessments running simultaneously. Whilst having a baseline period running in the summer might not be extremely inconvenient for a term-based setting, those settings that run all year long will find this unsuitable. 


  • Using the Baseline Screen will allow you to have different baseline periods for different children. It is possible to get children transferred to or starting at your setting half-way through the year. It is also possible to have children with a longer transition period, so you see them less often than other children. This means that the baseline periods must be flexible, so you can have different baseline period lengths and dates for the children in your setting. For example, you might want to baseline John for three weeks, but Ally might need a 6-week long baseline period because they only attend three mornings a week. You might also want to baseline Harry in September, but Olivia is not joining until January. Having the baseline as an assessment period restricts the baseline for all the children to the dates you have established this period for, there is no room for being flexible. 


  • Likewise, adding a baseline period can also mean that one of your periods is shorter than the rest, so your progress comparison wouldn't be equal or fair. For example, you might end up comparing a summative assessment score calculated by assessments added during a 2-week period against a summative assessment period calculated by assessments added during a 5-week period.


  • There is also a lot of confusion with the order of the assessment periods. It is important to bear in mind that all new academic years will start on your Tapestry account the moment you hit the first day of the period you have at the very top of your period list (you can check this in control panel > settings > summative assessments > assessment periods). In the example below you can see that my academic year started the 1st of September. 


    If you decide to add a baseline period,  but have this at the end of your list covering from the end of the academic year to 31st of August, for example, then your baseline scores for 19/20 would feature in July/August 2020, which would be rather confusing, especially if you click on Baseline and either have no data or data for the wrong children!


  • Assessment periods might change from one year to another. Also, and although we don't recommend it, you might decide to change your periods half way through your academic year.  Baseline assessments could end up in actual periods, and vice versa. This is because changing your assessment period dates will alter your previous summative assessments.Assessments that have been made in observations will be moved to the new term the date the observation was made is in.

    This means that any previously generated summative assessments may have different values, because they may cover different observations.

    If you manually overrode a summative assessment in a previous period, that override will remain, but it may be in a different period.

    If you make a small change to the dates or just change the period names, then your manually overridden assessments will stay in the period they were set for.

    If you make a radical change (say going from termly to monthly periods) then the existing manually overridden summative assessments, you have made will be moved to whatever new period contains the last day of the old period.

    For example, if you had a summer term period that went from 1 May to 10 June, and changed the period to monthly ones (i.e., Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, July etc.), then snapshots in the old summer term period would end up in the new June period, because the last day of the old summer term period was in the new June period.


  • The baseline screen will remain untouched until you decide to change it. This means that you can use the baseline data when viewing some of our tracking screens by simply selecting the 'Baseline' option at any point, no matter when the baseline was made. 


  • Similarly, if you create a baseline period and then access the tracking screens you can use the baseline assessment scores for, you might wonder where your data has gone, as when you click on 'Baseline' no information is showing up. This would be because you are trying to access the data in the Baseline assessment screen, whilst your baseline data is actually part of your assessment periods.

    You can use the 'Baseline' scores from the Baseline assessment area within Tapestry in screens such as the Age Band tracker:


    Or the child comparison screen:



I hope the above clarifies why we strongly advise against adding an assessment period called 'Baseline'. If you have any further queries, or you already are working with a period called 'Baseline' and wish to stop doing so but are not sure about how to go about it or the impact that removing this period will have in your remaining data, please contact us on customer.service@eyfs.info and we will be more than happy to assist you!

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