This is a pure ‘cut and paste’ of what I think are the main points from the DfE consultation. I have produced this to share with our staff and governors. If it is of use to you please feel free to share it.
Primary Assessment Government consultation
Teachers and school leaders have a fundamental role to play so that every child can fulfil their potential. Acquiring a good grasp of the basics of English and mathematics, as part of a rich and varied curriculum, is critical for a child’s future success.
A lot of change in primary schools in recent years, as we have worked together to raise standards, and I recognise that teachers and headteachers are still adapting to these changes.
No new national tests or assessments before the 2018-2019 academic year.
It is vital that we establish a settled, trusted primary assessment system.
Want a system that measures the progress that children make throughout their time at primary school fairly and accurately, a system that recognises teachers’ professionalism in assessing their pupils, and a system which does not impose a disproportionate burden.
Current system: KS1 & KS2
Statutory assessment plays an important role in ensuring that every child is supported to leave primary school prepared to succeed.
The Government should rightly set a clear expected standard that is ambitious.
It is important that we have an accountability system which is fair, inclusive, and properly reflects the work done by teachers to ensure that all children fulfil their potential, including those with additional needs.
We are clear that no single piece of data will determine any decision on intervention, in 2016 or beyond. Ofsted, regional schools commissioners, local authorities, governors and parents should look at a range of data, alongside the school’s broader context and performance history, rather than focusing on one piece of information alone.
Statutory assessment sits alongside a number of other important factors, including the need to teach a broad and balanced curriculum, and the wider pupil experience of attending primary school.
Statutory assessment at primary school is about measuring school performance, holding schools to account for the work they do with their pupils and identifying where pupils require more support, so that this can be provided. Primary assessment should not be about putting pressure on children.
Principles & Purposes
Our assessment system should provide rigorous, reliable and trusted data that can be used, as part of a broader range of information, to measure accurately and hold schools to account for the progress they make with their pupils.
It provides information about how pupils are performing in relation to other pupils nationally, helps teachers to understand national expectations and enables parents, teachers and schools to benchmark their school’s progress against other schools locally and nationally.
Enables the government to hold schools to account for the work they do with their pupils, to monitor national standards and to measure the impact of education policy over time.
A starting point for Ofsted’s discussions with schools.
Evidence shows that an assessment system which balances school autonomy with strong external accountability makes a positive difference to pupil achievement.
Preparing children to succeed at school
A strong approach in the early years ensures that all children have a solid foundation from which to progress.
At the national level, EYFSP data enables the government to evaluate the impact of our investment in the early years on children’s outcomes at age 5.
The EYFSP will remain in place for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Ensure that assessment in reception is reliable and trusted, and that it both demonstrates how children have developed during their early years, and provides a measure of school readiness.
Broadening a child’s vocabulary is crucial for their development. Other factors such as self-regulation can have an important influence on successful early education, including pre-reading skills and early mathematics, and could be given more weight in an improved EYFSP.
We are also aware of challenges around reliability of data obtained from the EYFSP. (year-on-year improvements)
Look at how to further reduce the workload burden on teachers… (and) consider how moderation of EYFSP results could be streamlined and improved.
Evidence does not need to be formally recorded or documented…paperwork should be kept to a minimum.
The best starting point for measuring progress
Any progress measure needs a reliable baseline, a starting point from which progress will be calculated. Ideally, that baseline should be established as early as possible.
Assessment needs to be a reliable indicator of pupils’ attainment and strongly correlate with their attainment in statutory KS2 assessments in English reading, writing and mathematics. Any baseline assessment must be appropriate and suitable for pupils, and avoid creating unnecessary burdens or perverse incentives for schools.
How to ensure the most appropriate baseline?
The point at which the baseline assessment should be taken?
Option 1: Move the starting point to Year R
There is a strong case for measuring progress from Reception to the end of year 6. We recognise that any new baseline would need careful consideration.
It is possible to create an assessment of reception age children which is suitable for that age group, sufficiently granular and well correlated with later outcomes.
Any new assessment would be designed to cover the material which we would already expect children to be familiar with at that stage…so would not result in changes to teaching practice.
Both a continuing EYFSP and a new baseline assessment in reception would therefore cover literacy and numeracy elements. We would make sure that a new baseline in reception complemented and aligned with the EYFSP.
Data from a baseline assessment could be published at national level for transparency, but we would not do so at school level. Nor would school-level data be shared with regional schools commissioners, local authorities or Ofsted.
This could be after pupils have been given enough time to settle into primary school and become accustomed to their new routines, for example at the beginning of the second half term.
Option 2: An improved KS1 baseline
Some schools and assessment experts argue that incentives have now been created for schools to deflate results at key stage 1 to demonstrate greater progress by key stage 2. To help address these concerns, it would be necessary to significantly increase moderation of teacher assessment at key stage 1.
A greater number (more than 3) of teacher assessment categories would provide a more robust and effective measure.
An alternative approach would be to collect the data from the statutory tests which pupils already sit at the end of year 2. This would provide a robust baseline without adding to teachers’ workload.
However, schools have told us previously that collecting this test data could unnecessarily raise the stakes of the tests for pupils. It is not our intention to increase the stakes of assessment, so we do not see collecting key stage 1 test data as the right long-term solution.
Any new baseline assessment would not be in place before the 2019-2020 academic year…Up until this point, we propose continuing to use key stage 1 teacher assessment data as the baseline for the cohorts of pupils who will be completing primary school before that time.
There is the option of looking at ways of making the key stage 1 data more reliable and reducing workload in the 2018 to 2019, 2019 to 2020 and 2020 to 2021 academic years, for example by collecting key stage 1 test data to use solely as the baseline for progress measures.
However as this might unnecessarily raise the stakes of these tests we propose that we continue to use key stage 1 teacher assessment data as the baseline for measuring progress in the interim years.
The role of KS1 statutory assessments
Moving to an assessment system where, for school accountability, the progress measure is based on assessments of pupils in reception and the end of year 6, means that we would no longer need to use key stage 1 assessments as a baseline. As a result, we could remove the obligation for schools to assess pupils against statutory teacher assessment frameworks at the end of key stage 1.
We propose, therefore, making end-of-key stage 1 assessments – both teacher assessment frameworks and national curriculum tests – in English reading, English writing, mathematics and science non-statutory for all-through primary schools11 once a new baseline in reception has become fully established.
There is still value in being able to benchmark pupil performance against national standards at this point.
We would continue to expect schools to provide parents with more detailed information about their child’s performance at the end of KS1, as the midway point in primary school.
Monitoring national standards at KS1
If KS1 assessment becomes non-statutory to provide an ongoing picture of national standards we would intend to sample key stage 1 assessment data from a small proportion of schools. This data would be anonymised and would not be used for school accountability purposes.
School types and assessment
The introduction of a new assessment in reception as a baseline for measuring progress would have an impact on infant, junior and middle schools…we will need to reconsider the best accountability arrangements for these types of school.
These schools would be judged on a different basis from all-through primary schools and so would need to be compared against each other, rather than all other schools with KS2 provision.
The alternative would be to hold infant and junior schools to account using a single reception to key stage 2 progress measure, encouraging greater collaboration between infant and junior schools.
We want our statutory assessment system to strike a balance between enabling national standards to be maintained whilst limiting the burdens on teachers and children.
Collection of teacher assessment data at the end of KS2
Ongoing classroom teacher assessment is a vital part of teaching, and critical to discussions with parents. However should we continue to require statutory, summative, teacher assessment in key stage 2 English reading and mathematics, when we use only test data for headline attainment and progress measures in these subjects?
We would continue to collect teacher assessment data in science and English writing.
KS1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test
We propose that the key stage 1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test should remain non-statutory for schools to administer beyond the 2016-2017 academic year.
Multiplication tables check
We plan to introduce a national multiplication tables check from the 2018-2019 academic year.
Likely to be taken online.
This check would not be designed as a school accountability measure.
Results will only be published at a national and local authority level. The data will not be used to trigger inspection or intervention.
End of Y4? During Y5? During Y6?
Improving end of KS statutory teacher assessment
We would also like to consider whether there are additional opportunities to reduce burdens for schools and pupils by improving the administration of statutory assessments in primary schools.
Discussed the possibility of no longer collecting statutory teacher assessment data where it is not used in headline progress and attainment measures.
The interim teacher assessment frameworks were designed to assess whether pupils have a firm grounding in the national curriculum by requiring teachers to demonstrate that pupils can meet every ‘pupil can’ statement. This approach aims to achieve greater consistency in the judgements made by teachers and to avoid pupils moving on in their education with significant and limiting gaps.
We believe that this approach (Interim Frameworks) was broadly appropriate for English reading, mathematics and science at key stages 1 and 2. We will maintain this approach for these subjects in future years. However, we plan to review the ‘pupil can’ statements within these frameworks.
The 2011 Bew Review of key stage 2 assessment emphasised, English writing warrants a different approach to assessment, rather than the application of a test.
The interim frameworks do not provide sufficient flexibility for teachers to reach judgements which are representative of pupils’ overall ability in this subject.
Assessment should take account of both the creative and technical aspects of good writing.
Whilst the requirement to provide robust supporting evidence would continue, we would like to consider whether there are ways in which we can afford greater flexibility for teachers in making their judgements within the framework for writing.
Retain a teacher assessment framework to support assessment of writing, but instead of adhering rigidly to the ‘secure fit’ model we should move to a ‘best fit’ approach which places greater weight on the judgement of teachers.
Work with the profession to review the ‘pupil can’ statements.