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Say no to Baseline Assessment!. Of 1,063 responses to the DfE’s question, in its July “consultation” as to whether the principles of that paper were right,

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Presentation on theme: "Say no to Baseline Assessment!. Of 1,063 responses to the DfE’s question, in its July “consultation” as to whether the principles of that paper were right,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Say no to Baseline Assessment!

2 Of 1,063 responses to the DfE’s question, in its July “consultation” as to whether the principles of that paper were right, 57 per cent said no, with only 18 per cent in favour. Yet the thrust of the proposals are unchanged. Some 51 per cent replied that there should not be a baseline check at the start of reception, against 34 per cent in favour, with the detailed concerns of expert groups not even mentioned. Yet it is happening. Similarly, 73 per cent of consultees came out against allowing schools to choose from commercially available baseline assessments, compared to 12 per cent in favour. Again, it is happening. And 68 per cent said that if the baseline assessments were to happen, they should not be made optional, against 19 per cent who said they should. They are being made optional. Warwick Mansell NAHT Blog on the Primary Assessment and Accountability Consultation CONSULTATION?


4 IT DIDN’T WORK IN 1997? Baseline testing was introduced by the Labour government in 1997 and was then withdrawn in 2002 as unworkable

5 The Welsh government tried to bring in an on – entry assessment for children of 3-4 entering the Foundation Phase (their approach to 3-7 year old education). After a significant investment in a pilot project and then an All Wales roll out it had to be withdrawn due to the adverse feedback of teachers. What the review found was that the first 6 weeks on entry into school was spent observing the children and scoring them according to abilities. Headteachers consequently ended up having to brief parents in Welsh schools about why their 3-4 year old children were scoring the equivalent of 18 months olds on some areas of learning. 9 th April 2012 “The NUT was delighted when the Education Minister in Wales Leighton Andrews conceded that he, and his department, had made a mistake with the introduction and implementation of baseline assessment for primary schools. The Child Development Assessment Profiles (CDAPs) were time consuming, ill-thought through and denied children and teachers’ essential teaching time.” IT DIDN’T WORK IN WALES?

6 1. Any assessment of such young children when they have just started in a new setting are likely to be unreliable and statistically invalid, as the children will be of widely varying ages and developmental readiness and will need time to settle and form relationships before they can begin to show what they can understand and achieve 2. If teachers have to assess formally in the first few weeks they will not be able to prioritise the crucially important ‘settling in’ work with their children. 3. There is enormous variability in children’s development up to the age of 6 and it is therefore inappropriate and potentially dangerous to compare their activities and achievements against any pre-determined ‘norm’. 4. Children may be inappropriately judged and labelled against others and, therefore, wrongly considered to have special needs with clumsy and ill-timed interventions. 5. Younger children are more likely to be misdiagnosed as having learning problems and this is especially so for the summerborn and boys Ten reasons to say no

7 6. There is a difference in age, between the oldest and youngest in the group, of up to a year when children start school and even a few days or weeks can make an enormous difference to children’s development at this stage in their life. 7. It has two likely impacts for parents - 1) they will feel pressurised to conform and to have their children tested before age appropriately ready, and 2) those with younger children are likely to feel unnecessarily stressed and concerned when they feel their children are then labelled as underperforming 8. Inexperienced teachers may feel the need to focus on expected outcomes, which are developmentally inappropriate; the resulting pressure will damage children’s self-esteem and natural learning dispositions. 9. There may be a temptation to underestimate children’s achievement on entry in order to be able to demonstrate rapid progress 10. It will add to the current downgrading of play and is likely to prioritise measurable academic achievement over physical, social and emotional, and intellectual development

8 Additional reasons The revised EYFS Profile has only been in place since 2012, and is set to become non-statutory from 2016, meaning that at exactly the time that the Early Years Pupil Premium is introduced we will lose the benefit of a tried and tested, rounded measure of children's development that gives continuity as children make the transition from the EYFS to compulsory schooling This will undermine the 8-year (SEED) Study of Early Education & Development commissioned by the DfE Work with health and social services will be set back as they are beginning to refer to the EYFSP for e.g. the statutory two year old check

9 “The difference between 4-year-olds and 5-year-olds as a percentage of life experience is one fifth - which equates to testing a 10 year old against an 8 year old and finding the 8 year old ‘wanting’ in some way. Or even finding a 20 year old lacking in adult life skills as compared to a 25 year old, or, at the other end of the scale, expecting a healthy 80 year old to be no different in any way to a healthy 64 year old.” Dr Pam Jarvis, Leeds Trinity University

10 “Contrasting the idea of a one-off baseline assessment with the early years foundation stage’s assessment principles which involved considerations of the whole child across a range of contexts and over time, the proposal to test a young child in an unfamiliar situation at a transition point in their education will not achieve reliable results, is contrary to EYFS principles and is unfair to children and their parents and early years practitioners.” The baseline would also run the risk of needlessly labelling some particularly vulnerable children, such as summer-born boys, as failures from the beginning of formal schooling - They are not failing; they are merely at a different stage in their development.” TACTYC

11 The Cambridge Primary Review “Notions of fixed ability would be exacerbated by a baseline test in reception that claimed to reliably predict future attainment. This could lead schools being unambitious in relation to children with low baseline assessment scores.”

12 NUT consultation response It is a serious step to move to a system whereby children were subject to annual formal statutory assessment from entering school until age seven. At an age when the majority of children in the best international education systems are not even part of formal primary education, it is absurd that the Government proposes the imposition of yet another test. It should rethink its position and continue to let schools determine how they assess young children on entry to Reception, for the benefit of the children’s learning and not as yet another accountability measure.

13 Commenting on the Assessment Reform Group (ARG) response Warwick Mansell NAHT blog Its principal objection to the idea is that teachers would have an incentive to bias pupil results downwards, in order to show pupils making more progress afterwards. Also, the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, which the DfE document says could be used for baseline assessments, would be too broad an assessment to match the subsequent “narrower” key stage 2 tests; ie they would not be assessing the same things, so talk of progress between the two indicators would be wrong. While the group can see the argument for baseline assessment, in that pupils’ starting points needed to be taken into account when judging how schools had done with them at age 11, the reservations above lead them to argue for taking pupil characteristics (socio-economic background, special educational needs, English as an additional language, etc), rather than their starting points, into account in measures of KS2 performance.

14 EPPI Review, 2009 Summative assessment by teachers has most benefit when teachers use evidence gathered over a period of time and with appropriate flexibility in choice of tasks rather than from an event taking place at a particular time. This enables information to be used formatively to adapt teaching as well as summatively. Using the results of student assessment for high-stakes school accountability reduces the validity of the assessment, whether this is conducted by teachers or by external tests and examinations.

15 British Educational Research Association (BERA) 13 th Oct 2013 Letter to Michael Gove The problems of dependability (relating to the interconnected properties of reliability and, especially, validity) of test results would apply to any attempt to create a new baseline test at the beginning of reception, so we vigorously oppose this idea. Once again, the principal objection is the incentive for teachers to bias (deflate) the assessment outcome, whilst administering the baseline assessment. The revised EYFS Profile is a useful assessment at the early years stage. But the breadth of its compass, which is an advantage for the purpose of identifying pupils’ needs, is a disadvantage for the purpose of providing a baseline for narrower national tests in reading and mathematics at KS2. Whilst certain of its sub-scales could be used, they are unable to discriminate sufficiently to provide a good baseline measure alone. Moreover, as an accountability measure, it would be undermined by pressure on teachers to bias their judgements. We certainly would not want to see the EYFS Profile made non-statutory in favour of a new, narrow ‘baseline check’.

16 Neil Leitch – CEO, Preschool Learning Alliance 29th May 2014 “The publication of these criteria has only served to heighten our concerns about the introduction of a reception baseline. The criteria clearly state the purpose of these assessments is to ‘assess school effectiveness’, rather than to ensure that the learning and development requirements of each individual child are met. Once again, the needs of the child have been completely overlooked. The current EYFS Profile is a broad-based assessment which covers all areas of learning and development and is based on a process of ongoing observation. In contrast, the new baseline assessments are to be focussed almost exclusively on language, literacy and mathematics. While these are of course vital early skills, we find it very concerning that no reference has been made to any other areas of learning and development, such as personal, social and emotional development or physical development. The Early Years Foundation Stage is still statutory in reception and as such, any assessments that take place during this time should ensure that practitioners are adopting a holistic and well-rounded approach to learning. We are also extremely concerned by the reference to the assessments potentially being ‘on-screen or on paper’. This would suggest that these ‘assessments’ will, in reality, be more like formal tests. Not only would such an approach provide an unreliable snapshot of a child’s progress at best, it is also completely inappropriate for children of such a young age.”

17 Nov 2014 - TACTYC is strongly opposed to a move toward this form of standardised baseline assessments because this form of assessment would be Unreliable. Children at such a young age will not show their true abilities in a test taken out of the context of familiar relationships and practical experiences; Invalid. The tests will be based on narrow checklists of basic skills and knowledge which do not take account of the different ways and rates at which children learn and develop, nor of the ability of children to build conceptual understanding and apply their knowledge. They will not include attitudes and dispositions which research shows are critical to children’s later achievement and capacity to learn. Harmful to effective practice and therefore to children’s learning and development. The assessment will result in pressure on practitioners to ‘teach to the test’, distorting the curriculum and detracting from the rich physical, exploratory, playful, creative, and intellectual experiences which research shows benefit children in the early years; Harmful to the home learning environment and parent partnership. Parents will be misdirected in terms of the most important markers of their child’s progress and attainment, toward supporting narrow measures rather than engaging in the responsive, playful interactions which best support children’s well-being and learning. For full position paper see

18 £2.4 - £4m supplier contracts - we are already seeing the commercialisation of baseline testing G L Assessment


20 TOO MUCH TOO SOON CAMPAIGN TEAM Any meaningful assessment for this age-group must be: 1.holistic - and acknowledge that children have profoundly different life experiences and developmental capacities at this stage 2.observation-based and contextual - with a focus on positive learning dispositions, rather than a test of knowledge 3.developmentally appropriate - with a clear understanding that there may be as much as an 11 months age difference between children 4.formative – with an avoidance of simplistic judgements or labels that might cause anxiety to either children or parents 5.consistent – ensuring that any comparisons lead to improved understanding and practice 6.developmentally significant - assessing abilities which are proven to predict later development, such as self-regulation, rather than those that don't, such as early literacy and numeracy

21 “In 2011, UNICEF commented that "Compared with 20 other OECD2 countries, including substantially poorer countries such as Poland and Greece, the UK came bottom on three out of six dimensions of well-being, and came bottom overall in the league table. Other indices of children's well-being have also found the UK to be doing badly." Does subjecting every four-year old to a test when they start school seem like the best response to that?” Julian Grenier Blog National Chair, Early Education; Headteacher, Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre

22 I am left wondering – yet again – if other countries bringing in major educational changes are quite as brazen in ignoring a wide range of professional, expert and on-the-ground opinion as our government in England seems to be. Warwick Mansell, NAHT Blog

23 “No reform of assessment and accountability, however radical it purports to be, will adequately address the challenge of educational standards in England’s primary schools unless it also addresses the habitual failing in the way both assessment and accountability are defined and conceived.” Cambridge Primary Review Trust

24 Help us stop the damage Set up your own local action group Engage your local schools Talk to governors, heads and teachers Talk to your local MP Talk to your local media Share your views on Netmums and Mumsnet Use your social media networks Use the TMTS Resource Page TACTYC Lobbying Pamphlet Early Education online Petition

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