A baseline without basis: The validity and utility of the proposed reception baseline assessment in England

13 July 2018

A new report from an expert panel convened by BERA 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 pupils have made at the end of key stage 2.

The panel concludes that the government’s proposals  – which will cost upward of £10 million –  are flawed, unjustified, and wholly unfit for purpose. They would be detrimental to children, parents, teachers, and the wider education system in England.

The expert panel considered whether the evidence from the assessment literature could justify such a test being used for this purpose.  They concluded that it could not.

In the panel’s view 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.
  • This is 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.

Read the report here