‘Gaming’ warning over high-stakes baseline assessments

The TES is reporting warnings in government-funded research that schools may try to “game” controversial new baseline assessments for four-year-olds…

The survey of a representative sample of primaries in England says there is “evidence to suggest” schools may carry out the assessments at the earliest possible opportunity, so as to maximise their chances of demonstrating progress in later years.

The study, carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research, says: “A ‘gaming’ approach could be harmful for learning, if teachers minimise learning opportunities at the start of Reception in favour of concentrating on the administration of the assessment and on keeping scores low at baseline.”

A small minority of schools surveyed report that they will no longer give pupils’ answers the benefit of the doubt in order to depress scores and make it easier to show progress…

Beatrice Merrick, chief executive of charity Early Education, said: “When high-stakes tests are introduced, you will get distortion, you will get gaming. It is very well-evidenced…”

More at: ‘Gaming’ warning over high-stakes baseline assessments


See the research from the DfE at: Reception baseline research


Any great surprises here?

I can’t help again but wonder how much the DfE is regretting allowing the assessment approaches based on teacher assessment. What do you think?

Please share your reactions and feedback in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Primary and Research.


  1. All high-stakes assessment and measurement creates distortion.  Of course schools should use assessment to find out where their students are struggling, but the aim should be to use the data to inform their teaching – not feed a league table.

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