I read with interest Diane Hofkins' article on baseline assessment, ("Girls outperform boys at school-entry stage," TES, March 24).
In Avon entry (baseline) assessment has been carried out on cohorts of 10,000 four-year-olds since 1992. Avon has a policy of three full years of infant education.
The assessment is based on four "areas of experience": language, reading, writing and mathematics. Results have been consistent over the three years and show that social factors (as measured by eligibility for free school meals) and age are more significant than gender. Though, as in the London borough of Wandsworth, girls perform better than boys.
It should be remembered, however, that the statistical results referred to above are only a part of the outcomes of entry assessment. Schools and the authority are also able to pursue at the beginning of a pupil's primary education early diagnosis and planning for individual needs while key information can be shared with parents and others concerned with the education of the whole child.
In 1995 value-added studies will be undertaken on the first cohort of pupils who will have completed both entry assessment and key stage 1.
Education Information Services
Avon County Council, Bristol