Reception baseline tests are not reliable enough


The government has announced that the Reception baseline does not work as a measure of pupil progress, because there are three different testing systems that schools can use, which are not "sufficiently comparable".

"Baseline tests" for pupils at the beginning of school were intended as a starting point against which to measure progress through primary school, but have been criticised as an unnecessary set of tests for young children.

Schools could choose between versions of the test provided by Early Excellence, Durham University's Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM), and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER).

However, following a study looking at the comparability of the three testing systems, the Department for Education (DfE) has now declined from using the tests for measuring progress this year.

The study suggested that pupils of similar ability could get different results, depending on which test they had taken.

A statement from the DfE said: "The study has shown that the assessments are not sufficiently comparable to provide a fair starting point from which to measure pupil progress.

"In light of that, we will not be using this year's results as the baseline for progress measures. This would be inappropriate and unfair to schools."

The National Association of Head Teachers said: "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.

"There is still merit in measuring primary progress from the start of school, rather than half-way through, and thereby neglecting some of the most important years of a child's education. The government has approached this in the wrong way."

The DfEt said it will continue to look at the best way to assess pupils in the early years.

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