Tests for four-year-olds ‘unreliable and disruptive’, say teachers

The BBC is reporting that a report commissioned by the NUT and the ATL is suggesting official assessments of four-year-olds are “unreliable and disrupt the crucial early days of school when children should be settling in”.

…Researchers from the University of London, commissioned by the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, carried out in-depth interviews with staff in five primary schools piloting the assessments, and quizzed 1,131 NUT and ATL members in a snapshot survey.

In some schools, extra teachers had to be employed to teach while the class teachers carried out the one-to-one assessments on each pupil, researchers said.

One teacher said: “If you have got 60 young people coming in… and you have to tick 47 boxes about all of them, of course your mind is going to be on that rather than talking to them about their nice shiny shoes and about their pet rabbit at home.”

Of those surveyed, 59% said the assessment had disrupted the start of school for Reception pupils.

One teacher told the team: “It took a long time out of my teaching time and was open to lucky guesses, particularly in the maths part.”

Another said: “Baseline assessment is the biggest farce I have undertaken during my entire teaching career. The potential for children to guess at answers or to misinterpret things is too vast to give a clear representation of where children are at.”

Just under a third of those surveyed (31.5%), said the assessments were an accurate reflection of children’s attainment at this stage.

The report concludes: “For many teachers, Baseline Assessment has had a negative impact on their working lives without benefiting the children they teach.

“It goes against the principles of good teaching in early years, and at the same time does not assess accurately enough to form the basis of a school performance measure…”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “As part of our mission to deliver educational excellence everywhere, we want to see all children pushed to reach their potential. 

“In order to do that, and to recognise the achievements of schools in the most challenging areas, we want to measure the progress that all pupils make as well as their overall attainment. That means ensuring we have a robust and fair baseline from which to measure that progress.”

More at: Tests for four-year-olds ‘unreliable’, say teachers


Read or download the report in full:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/baseline-assessment-final-10404.pdf”]


See also from the TES: Ticking 198 boxes for new primary assessments means ‘days’ of extra work


Some very damning comments here about the assessments – do they reflect your experience and opinions or do you see things differently?

Also, this research is, ultimately, based on anecdotal feedback from teachers when we know most were opposed to the tests in the first place – should we therefore be a bit cautious of the conclusions?

Likewise, the government continues to make the point that without an understanding of where children are starting from, we cannot appreciate the impact a school is having – is there not merit in this as, at least, a point of principle?

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  1. 1sthappysodme

    JohnClarke1960 maybe mps should take some sort of test before given a department to run to see if they know enough about the subject 🙂

  2. Nairb1

    The DfE says: ‘ That means ensuring we have a robust and fair baseline from which to measure that progress.”
    A statement which reveals the true purpose of the baseline tests , using spurious measures to ‘hold schools to account’ and provide data, however unreliable and unfair, to league table. English children are the most tested in Europe because of politicians’ obsession with grading schools. The result is a narrow curriculum where schools are both required to hit test-led targets and criticised for teaching to tests.

  3. AThraves

    SchoolsImprove will be interesting to see the research into how well the pilot has gone, and the quality/accuracy of data, when published

  4. Baseline tests are flawed and should be scrapped.  http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2015/05/baseline-tests-are-flawed-their-introduction-should-be-scrapped

  5. It is sensible to assess students at the beginning so that the teaching can be tailored to their needs.  However, publishing results, league tables etc create distortion and stress.
    Evidence suggests:  Assess quietly.  Don’t label students. Use the data to target help.

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