Baseline Testing – the continuing hype by Government. Despite the hype is my understanding is right?   3 comments

PLEASE READ TO THE END – AND IF YOU CAN – ANSWER MY QUESTIONS

As we have come to expect our Government are continuing to push ahead with the idea of Baseline Assessment (which of course are not really assessments but tests).

This is despite early years practitioners, reception teachers, specialists in the early years field, academics and just about everyone with an interest in the development and well being being of children saying THIS IS A BAD IDEA, please stop the implementation of baseline assessment and reconsider the options and indeed if baseline assessment is even needed.

There is a petition from Early Education and the ‘blurb’ to introduce the petition tells us their concerns which I and many others agree with. If not seen yet take a look and consider signing it.

Early Education petition against baseline assessment

There are my two previous blogs about baseline assessment
This one;
Link to my blog from Jan 21st

and this one;
Link to my blog from Feb 2014

And a quick internet search will bring up lots of other articles and blogs about baseline testing – some will be in favour but the majority will be against.

However, as I say DESPITE the concern expressed by those who are concerned the Government are continuing with their plans to implement this (in my opinion) ill thought out idea.

Sue Cowley has written an excellent blog about baseline testing (she agrees it is a test not an assessment) and so if not read it yet, please do as Sue says a lot of things that I think need saying.

Blog from Sue Cowley on Baseline Testing

For this blog I once to concentrate on the things that the Government are just slipping in – a word here and there in documents and on websites – but without fanfare – so going unnoticed by some.

Let’s start with the reasons behind this whole thing – so the hype

Could it be about making money for Government sponsored / promoted companies – so those producing these materials?

Could it be that there is not one single good reason for spending all this money on this (remember the Government are spending millions on provided reimbursement for these approved systems to be put in place)?

Could it be that the Government want to undermine the professionalism of early years settings by saying that the EYFS system of observation based assessments is not good enough – as another drive to getting children into school earlier and earlier?

Could it be that (as Sue suggests in her blog) that schools will downgrade children’s level of development on starting school, so good progress in school can be proved – and by default poor progress in early years settings?

Could it be that these tests will only be focussing on certain skills – and so support the Government plans for little robots unable to think for themselves, or to have individual dreams and skills that do not fit into the Government set narrow vision of what ‘success’ looks like?

Could it be that the Government are introducing the whole baseline assessment to ensure everyone thinks they the Government are doing well because they will be able to ensure year on year that children are ‘doing better’ – even if the number able to read, write, keep themselves safe, care for themselves, fit into society, continue to at current levels – or get worse.

Could it be that less and less young people will be able to earn a living from doing things they enjoy and are good at – but are not academic, because these things become even less valued than there are now – due to the narrow focus of these baseline tests – and therefore focus of the curriculum throughout school (as an example children made to learn times tables by rote, when there is no evidence that this is a skill they will need in their future – and Nicky Morgan’s reluctance to answer times table questions must reflect her confidence to do so correctly – not that I am judging her on that – she seems to have managed her professional life without that confidence)

So what are the REAL reasons for these baseline assessments?

I wish someone would tell me, because in my opinion it has got NOTHING to do with the children – or their future well being and development.

Moving on…. to other concerns – just little things but they are bothering me from my reading of this Government guide

Government guide to baseline testing

Baseline will be voluntary from Sept 15 for 12 months – and the EYFS profiles will remain compulsory. However from Sept 16 baseline will still be voluntary BUT EYFS profiles will no longer recognised!

Confussed? It appears that those who do not want to do the new baseline assessments will not have any ‘official’ data on their pupils?

Even more confusion if a baseline assessment system provider does not attract enough schools to sign up – it will be dropped. Therefore schools will have to choose another one BUT the systems are not the same, so if a school chooses a particular system, and it is not popular, they are unlikely to want to use one of the others.

The cynic in me says could we end up with just one or two ‘popular’ systems- that might be the ones the Government prefer?

Well the Government wants everyone to use the baseline testing so there are making sure it happens.

Government guidance says
Every Government funded school that wish to use the reception baseline assessment from September 2015 should sign up by the end of April.

And From September 2016 you’ll only be able to use your reception baseline to key stage 2 results to measure progress.

Ah – so no choice really – no wait and see if works, no sitting on the fence – schools need to sign up by April 15 (and that is soon, very soon),and if you don’t sign up quickly your preferred option may no longer be available, – and furthermore if not using by September 16 – you will have no ‘official’ measure of your pupils progress.

So does this mean that schools will be mark down, downgraded in Ofsted inspections and so on if they do not have a measure of pupils progress? (Of course they all will but if the Government only recognise baseline ones – then Ofsted not even going to look at any other method of recording – such as observations or photographs or case studies or anything)

I wonder how many heads will be brave enough to say to their reception staff – carry on as you have been, don’t worry about baseline assessment? I wonder how many reception teachers will have to do these tests because their head says so/ is worried about the knock on impact to the school if they don’t?

Arm twisting comes to mind.

However the next bit has really confused me, I know I have problems with words – but there are no ;big words’ in this – so why can’t I make sense of it?

The Government guidance document say;

In 2022 we’ll then use whichever measure shows the most progress: your reception baseline to key stage 2 results or your key stage 1 results to key stage 2 results.

And

If you choose not to use the reception baseline, from 2023 we’ll only hold you to account by your pupils’ attainment at the end of key stage 2.

HANG ON – HANG ON

I think my understanding of this is very poor – I am even more confused than I thought I was

I am reading that if a school has bad progress via the baseline tests (from 2022) the Government will use the progress from Key Stage One to Key Stage Two, as their measure

The Government are saying if the measure from reception to key stage one is bad they won’t use them, they will use the measure from Key Stage One, to Key Stage Two instead!!!

And if schools choose not to use baseline assessment from 2023 they will only use pupils attainment at end of Key Stage Two.

SO FORGIVE MY POOR UNDERSTANDING

Maybe someone could explain to me

Why are the Government pushing this test, spending millions of pounds on it, going to subject thousands of very young children to inappropriate testing – only to give themselves a get out clause of not even using the data, and just measuring pupils attainment at Key Stage Two?

I don’t understand- it does not make any sense to me. Surely I have completely misread this?

We have a system of 6 baseline assessments that you can not make comparisons between (which if a child moves school you may need to do)

We have a huge amount of objections to baseline testing from professionals, many of whom don’t want to implement them but feel they should otherwise their school may be marked down.

And yet the Government are saying ‘we will only use the best progress results, we will only measure at Key Stage Two’ (if it suits us, or if schools not doing baseline assessments)

SO WHY, OH WHY is there all this hype about baseline tests being needed?

Surely it would be better to just drop the idea, save all the money and use the professional judgement of teachers and early years settings to ensure that children are progressing and building the foundations of all future learning through play based learning and their interests.

I await explanations – as I really do not understand why baseline assessments are being introduced, surely I have misunderstood because if the Government are sure they are a good idea, they would a) have one system for all so comparisons between schools could be made, b) they would be planning on using that data not choosing if they will, c) ensuring all schools use it

To my mind it is all just hype with no rhyme or reason

Maybe someone from Government would comment?

Posted February 6, 2015 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

3 responses to “Baseline Testing – the continuing hype by Government. Despite the hype is my understanding is right?

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  1. Sadly not an explanation from a member of the government, Penny. Just an ex-primary head, I presume that it’s a ‘value-added’ issue.

    Heads/schools are now almost entirely judged on their KS2 results. They need evidence that their results are good in terms of the progress children have made since they arrived. So they need a ‘baseline’ to base that progress on. The government is thus ensuring that the pressure to introduce the new tests will come from senior management in the local primary schools, who have far more clout with their feeder nurseries than some faceless Whitehall official. And, sadly, most primary heads know very little about small children. For them, the bottom line is KS2 test results, and they have to make them look as good as they can.

    It’s the way all educational reforms since the 1990s have been imposed. Terrify senior managers, and they’ll pass the terror down the line That’s why the whole teaching profession should be involved in the boycott of these tests — we can’t go on dancing to a political tune based on terror, especially as it’s now putting pressure on children aged four. Please God enough NUT members can be persuaded to back the baseline boycott — I’d like to see the NAHT join in too.

    Sue Palmer, author of Toxic Childhood .

  2. Ditto to everything!

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