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NFER shares its plans for new baseline test

By Rachel Lawler

baseline assessment
The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has shared more details of its plans for the new baseline test for reception children.
The company says that the tests will be based “firmly on evidence” and designed to measure children “at a cohort rather than an individual level”.
Earlier this year, the Department for Education (DfE) announced that NFER had been chosen to deliver the planned baseline tests due to be trialled later this year and introduced in 2020.
The company’s plans explain that the new assessment is primarily designed to “provide a baseline for measuring the progress children make throughout their primary school career”.
However, NFER also says that the baseline tests will offer additional “immediate opportunities” for schools. It says the tests can also be used to gather “valuable information for practitioners” including children’s “approach to the tasks, their attentiveness, and their confidence levels”.
NFER says that the tests will be “informed by international research evidence” alongside the company’s own experience in the sector. The company also says that practitioners will be “at the heart” of their approach.
NFER said that observational approaches are important but raised concerns about their use in “accountability measures”. It said: “In particular, any assessment used in an accountability system needs to avoid unintended bias.”
The DfE will work with NFER to trial the new baseline tests this year, with plans to roll-out the assessments nationally by September 2020.