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Baseline tests are trial of strengths. Neil Sears reports on projects which show the benefits of analysing pupils' progress from the earliest years.

The secrets of particularly effective teachers can be isolated and identified - and then passed on to colleagues - if schools carry out a value-added analysis of their results, the congress will hear from one Derby college principal.

In a four-year-old research project at Merrill College in Derby, a 1,150-student technology college for 11 to 19- year-olds, students are assessed with a reading test in Year 7, national curriculum tests and on their GCSE and A-level results.

"Through value-added analysis we have identified an English teacher who was particularly effective at addressing underperformance by boys in the subject, " says principal Michael Shaw.

"Classroom observation anddiscussion with the teacherconcerned extracted the particular approaches which wereeffective in this respect, and these techniques were disseminated to other teachers."

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