Challenging the validity and utility of the proposed Reception Baseline Assessment in England

A new report published by the British Educational Research Association and involving the department’s Senior Research Fellow, Professor Pam Sammons,  provides a critical review of  the government’s proposals for a baseline assessment of all children at reception entry, which will cost upward of £10 million. 

The report ‘A baseline without basis: New report challenges the proposed reception baseline assessment in England‘ (published 4 July 2018) sets out the case against the government’s proposal to use a baseline assessment test of pupils in reception to hold schools in England to account for the progress that those pupils have made by the end of key stage 2, arguing that these are flawed, unjustified, and wholly unfit for purpose. The report goes on to state that these would be detrimental to children, parents, teachers, and the wider education system in England, and that the proposed baseline assessment will not lead to accurate or fair comparisons being made between schools because:

  • Any value-added calculations that will be used to hold school to account will be highly unreliable.
  • Children will be exposed to tests that will offer no formative help in establishing their needs and/or in developing teaching strategies capable of meeting them.

The report concluded that this an untried experiment that cannot be properly evaluated until at least 2027, when the first cohort tested at reception has taken key stage 2 tests.

The expert panel who authored the report, convened by BERA,  included: Harvey Goldstein, Gemma Moss, Pamela Sammons, Gwen Sinnott and Gordon Stobart

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