Baseline tests: Government abandons progress measure over lack of comparability

Baseline tests: Government abandons progress measure over lack of comparability

Controversial primary school baseline tests will not be used to track school performance, the government has announced.

Following a comparability study, the Department for Education has confirmed it will not be using this year’s results as the baseline for progress measures.

It confirms what Schools Week reported in February, and leaves the future of the tests in more doubt, although the government will still give schools the option of setting them for pupils.

A department spokesperson said: “When the baseline assessment was proposed we were clear that we would carry out a comparability study of the programme.

“That study has shown that the assessments are not sufficiently comparable to provide a fair starting point from which to measure pupil progress. In light of that, we will not be using this year’s results as the baseline for progress measures. This would be inappropriate and unfair to schools.”

He said the government would “continue to offer the optional baseline assessments for schools to use next year”, and said that while it will not be used for accountability purposes next year, schools would be “encouraged” to use the tests “for their own purposes”, to identify pupils who may need additional support.

Under the controversial baseline assessment scheme, primary schools would have had to use the tests from September if they wanted to be assessed on pupil progress at key stage 2 (KS2), as opposed to pupil attainment.

Three approved baseline assessment providers – Early Excellence, Durham University’s Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) – began rolling out their assessments at the start of this academic year.

The Standards and Testing Agency ordered a study late last year to check the “robustness” of the assessments by each provider.