A baseline without basis: The validity and utility of the proposed reception baseline assessment in England
4 July 2018
- Michael Rosen in the Guardian
- Matthew Bennett in the London Review of Books blog
- Helen Ward in the Times Educational Supplement
- Catherine Gaunt in Nursery World
- Tracey Brabin MP’s question to the Secretary of State for Education.
In the panel’s view the proposed baseline assessment will not lead to accurate or fair comparisons being made between schools for the following reasons.
- 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.
The panel argues that the tests cannot be accurate or fair because:
- just a few month’s difference in age in the early years produces pronounced developmental differences, yet plans for the RBA do not take this properly into account
- pupil cohorts within primary schools are statistically small, and often have uneven distributions of younger and older children, which makes it hard to draw valid comparisons between schools
- pupil mobility, teacher turnover, and the likelihood of a change in head teacher will all muddy the issue of accountability – either pupil data will be missing, or schools may be held to account for pupils they have not taught continuously in the seven years since the data was first collected
- it is widely recognised that a range of contextual factors – such as parents’ educational levels, family income and having English as an additional language – affect both attainment and relative attainment, but under the government’s current proposals no such factors will be taken into account.