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New baseline guidance for schools announced

By Rachel Lawler

Child uses tablet - baseline assessment plans revealed
The Standards and Testing Agency has released guidelines for the government’s new baseline assessment, due to introduced in primary schools in 2020.
 
The guidelines explain why the government is introducing the baseline assessment, what it plans the tests to look like and how the results will be used.
 
What the tests will look like
The leaflet states: “The new reception baseline assessment will be short (approximately 20 minutes), interactive and practical, covering language and communication, early mathematics and (subject to trialling) self-regulation.”
 
It also explains that testing and trialling will take place in the autumn this year and that a national pilot of the assessments will be held in the academic year 2019-2010.
 
20-minute test
The government announced plans to introduce a baseline assessment last year. It says that the 20-minute test will be administered in the first few weeks of the reception year and allow teachers to measure the progress children make at primary school.
 
In April, the government announced that the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) had been chosen to design and deliver the tests.
 
Widespread criticism
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: “It is incredibly frustrating that the government has chosen to push ahead with the reception baseline assessment, despite such widespread criticism from early years and primary education professionals.
 
“We’re clear that while effective assessment is undoubtedly an important part of early education, a baseline assessment as proposed by government, which focuses predominantly on narrow, easy-to-measure skills, is not the right approach. 
 
Easy-to-measure?
“What’s more, the fact that the guidance document states that in ‘most’ – but, by implication, not all – cases children won’t be aware they are being assessed, and that ‘most’ children with SEND or speaking EAL will be able to be included in these assessments is far from reassuring.
 
“Rather than pushing ahead with such a fundamentally flawed initiative, government should listen to the concerns of those early years practitioners and reception teachers who know and understand how young children learn and develop, and ensure that any changes to early assessments are focused on meeting the needs of children – not just making it easier to judge and rank schools.”
 
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