Reception baseline tests dropped

DfE publishes report showing the three baseline assessment options are not sufficient for measuring progress in primary

The government has announced that the reception baseline does not work as a measure of pupil progress, after publishing the results of a study that compares the three reception baseline assessments used by schools in the 2015 to 2016 academic year.

The introduction of the reception baseline assessment from 2015 was announced in March 2014 as a new way of measuring primary schools’ progress. Schools were able to choose from three providers to suit their wider approach to assessment and the results were intended to be used to measure the progress schools make with their pupils from reception year to the end of key stage two (KS2) in 2022.

The study concludes that the three different assessments are not sufficiently comparable to create a fair starting point from which to measure pupils’ progress. As a result, they cannot be used as the baseline for progress measures.

In an online statement, the DfE said: “Key stage 1 (KS1) will continue to be used as the starting point from which to measure this year’s reception pupils’ progress to KS2. We remain committed to measuring the progress of pupils through primary school and will continue to look at the best way to assess pupils in the early years.

“Schools will have the option to continue to use the baseline assessments in the 2016 to 2017 academic year, should they wish to sign up for reception baseline as part of their on-entry assessment of pupils. The outcomes from the assessments will not be used for accountability.

“Assessment is a key part of the education system and remains crucial to ensuring that every child fulfils their potential. Over the coming months we will be considering options for improving assessment arrangements in reception beyond 2016 to 2017 and will make an announcement in due course.”

Headteachers’ union NAHT said: “It is hard to avoid saying ‘we told you so’. The government has outsmarted itself by choosing multiple providers of these assessments – none of which compare to each other. They cannot provide a measure of progress that can be compared between schools.

“This outcome is symptomatic of the general chaos on assessment in the primary phase, with poor planning and a lack of consultation with the people who know what will actually work.

“We welcome the government’s promise to work with the profession to consider its next steps, but we are clear that a piecemeal approach to individual tests will not work. It’s what got us into this mess in the first place. We need a coherent approach to assessment from start to finish across all ages, methods and subjects.”

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