New baseline tests indicate task ahead for computing teachers
TLM chief assessor Ian LynchTLM chief assessor Ian Lynch What do pupils know about the “computing” before they start the new curriculum? Well, two thirds of Year 7 children, and about half of those in Year 10, don’t know what an integer is (it's a whole number, ie without a decimal point). This will be a surprise to many because it should have already been taught in maths.

It's just one of the insights from the new key stage 3 baseline testing being conducted by Naace and TLM and being shared at the Naace Conference in Nottingham (March 25-26).

More than 60,000 pupils have taken this new online baseline test so far, generating an average score of 40.4 per cent. However, the results are not comforting.

TLM chief assessor Ian Lynch (pictured above right) commented, “Some children scored 90 per cent but the vast majority don’t know much at all. With subsequent tests we can provide schools with all the progress measures they need, and very quickly and at no cost.

“What is unique about this is that here has never been an opportunity to find out what children know and understand in a subject before it is formally taught. That was why we are so excited about the possibilities in terms of using empirical data and sharing it to inform classrom practice.”

'French a programming language but Python not'

There are other insights, some amusing and others less so. More than half the younger boys and girls thought that French was a programming language but Python wasn’t. Worryingly, many children think it is safe to respond directly to an unsolicited email telling them they have won a prize. And there are some questions that Year 7 students provide better answers to than Year 10 students, which is counter intuitive.

The tables showing the most popular incorrect answers are available on the TLM website. Overall, this data is very helpful for teachers to provide progress measures in the absence of the old national curriculum levels which have ben scrapped.

Ian Lynch also commented on feedback from schools reflecting their concern about the lack of recognition for children’s attainment in computing. apart from GCSE Computer Science which is likely to be a minority activity (thought likely to attract a maximum 20 per cent take-up). He pointed out that there is a level 1 qualification that is based on the same assessment criteria as the baseline test. So there is a regulated qualification at the right level for the end of key stage 3 accessible to all children (see Naace/TLM Certificate in Open Systems Computing)

More information from TLM:
Tel 01827 305940

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