Following months of detailed talks between education unions and the Department for Education the consultation on primary assessment was finally published on 30 March 2017. It is clear that the government has listened to many of the principles and recommendations contained in NAHT's independent Assessment Review Group report.
It is vitally important that your views inform our response to the consultation so please complete our short survey to give your opinions on the proposals. Please note that this survey is now closed.
Below is a brief summary of the considerations and proposals contained within the consultation:
The early years foundation stage and profile
The EYFSP is recognised as a well-established, valued and respected assessment and the consultation confirms that it will remain a statutory assessment for future years, but seeks views on improving it, asking:
- Which elements could be added, removed or modified to improve the EYFSP to better assess a child's knowledge, skill, understanding and level of development at the end of the early years?
- Is the categorisation 'emerging, expecting or exceeding' the level of development the right approach?
- What steps could be taken to reduce the workload and time burden on those involved in administering the EYFSP?
- How could the consistency and effectiveness of the EYFSP moderation process be improved?
The best starting point for measuring progress in primary school
Any progress measure needs a reliable baseline, a starting point from which progress will be calculated.
Option 1: Capture more progress through the primary phase by moving the starting point for measuring progress to the reception year
The current progress measures use key stage 1 teacher assessment data as the baseline. The biggest drawback to this is that schools are not credited for their crucial work with pupils in reception, year 1 and year 2. There is a strong case for measuring progress from reception to the end of year 6 but any new baseline would need careful consideration both in terms of the content and timing.
Option 2: An improved key stage 1 baseline
If key stage 1 were to be used as a baseline in the long term, the assessments would need to be improved to make sure they were sufficiently robust and reliable. Key stage 1 teacher assessments were not designed as a starting point for progress measures. The current interim frameworks only allow for pupils to be placed into one of three broad teacher assessment categories but a greater number of categories would provide a more robust and effective measure. An alternative approach to improve the key stage 1 baseline would be to collect the data from the statutory tests which pupils already sit at the end of year 2.
Any new baseline assessment would not be in place before the 2019 to 2020 academic year, with the first cohort of pupils taking the new assessment reaching the end of key stage 2 in summer 2026 at the earliest. Up until this point, the consultation proposes 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.
The role of key stage 1 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 key stage 1 assessments would no longer be needed as a baseline. The consultation proposes, 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 schools once a new baseline in reception has become established.
School types – infant, middle and junior schools
The introduction of a new assessment in reception as a baseline for measuring progress would have an impact on infant, junior and middle schools and the consultation specifically asks what would be the most effective accountability arrangements for infant, middle and junior schools' progress measures in these circumstances.
Collection of teacher assessment data at the end of key stage 2
Should the department remove the statutory obligation to carry out teacher assessment in English reading and mathematics at key stage 2, when only test data is used in performance measures?
Key stage 1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test
Should the key stage 1 English grammar, punctuation and spelling test remain non-statutory beyond the 2016 to 2017 academic year, with test papers available for teachers to use as they see fit?
Multiplication tables check
The government plan to introduce a national multiplication tables check from the 2018/19 academic year. The consultation asks what point in key stage 2 the multiplication tables check should be administered and how it can be implemented in a way that balances burdens on schools with benefit to pupils.
End-of-key stage statutory teacher assessment
The consultation proposes retaining the secure fit approach for English reading, mathematics and science at key stages 1 and 2. However, there will be a review of the 'pupil can' statements within these frameworks, working with curriculum and assessment experts, to improve them further and potentially introducing changes for the 2017 to 2018 academic year.
Teacher assessment of English writing
Feedback from the sector has suggested that, in the case of writing, the interim frameworks do not provide sufficient flexibility for teachers to reach judgements which are representative of pupils' overall ability and do not take account both the creative and technical aspects of good writing.
The consultation proposes moving to a 'best fit' approach coupled with a review the 'pupil can' statements within the writing frameworks. This change would apply to the assessment of writing at both key stage 1 and key stage 2, potentially for the 2017 to 2018 academic year.
The consultation also asks for evidence of alternative approaches to the assessment of English writing and of any effective models of moderation or standardisation of teacher assessment that the Department for Education should explore.
A consultation on the recommendations of the Rochford review regarding assessment arrangements for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum tests was published simultaneously.