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Government announces plans to introduce new baseline assessment

By Shannon Hawthorne
The government will reintroduce baseline assessments at the start of reception from 2020, following a consultation on primary assessment.
The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) is preparing to start the process of engaging a commercial partner to work with them to design and deliver the assessment. Unlike the previous attempt to introduce baseline assessment, only one supplier will be appointed.
The government has confirmed that the does not “intend [the baseline” to be an observational assessment which is carried out over time, like the EYFSP”. It adds that the prime focus of the new assessments, which will take place in the first half-term of the autumn term, will “be on skills which can be reliably assessed and which correlate with attainment in English and mathematics at the end of KS2, most notably early literacy and mathematics.”
A large-scale pilot and evaluation of the new assessment will be conducted in the academic year 2019/20.
Commenting on the announcement, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: ““It is incredibly disappointing that the government has chosen to ignore the very valid concerns of the education sector, and reintroduce the fundamentally-flawed baseline assessment policy.
“No one is arguing against the value of early assessments – but narrow, reductive baseline testing is not the solution. Such tests not only often produce unreliable results, they also risk placing undue pressure on young children at the very start of their educational journeys.
He added: “The frustrating thing is that we already know the dangers of implementing assessments that focus on school accountability over and above supporting learning and development. How much stress and anxiety have we’ve seen in primary classrooms recently as a result of KS1 testing? The idea that this could be simply shifted onto some of our youngest children is simply unacceptable.
The government consultation response also confirmed that the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile will remain. However, the government has stated that it will look at reducing the number of early learning goals (ELGs) that EYFS Profile assesses by limiting it to the three prime areas of learning, plus just two specific areas: numeracy & literacy.
It also plans to - make descriptors for a typical level of development against the ELGs clearer and bring the ELGs in line with key stage one, particularly ELGs for literacy and mathematics.