Baseline assessment, to test, or not to test, that is the question…

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To test, or not to test? That is the question which provokes one of the most keenly fought debates in education policy, and which can lead to soul searching on an almost Shakespearean scale among teachers and academics.

From a CEM perspective there is a strong argument for testing as a baseline assessment and the Centre has recently submitted evidence to the DfE making the case for this as part of the consultation on Primary Assessment and Accountability held by the Department (#cemevidenceforassessment).

For us the case for robust baseline assessment is clear. We can see the benefits of early identification of a child’s potential trajectory, and also of any special needs, having run large scale monitoring of school readiness and attainment in Britain and around the world for 30 years.

Our starting point is that the progress made in reception has a lasting impact, therefore a full understanding of children’s needs is vital in primary education. Although teacher assessment is an important activity in any classroom, an objective measure is an essential addition.

A single baseline test may not constitute a diagnosis of a specific problem, but it can flag up issues for schools.

We also believe that schools should be able to choose from a range of commercially available assessments as long as these meet an agreed threshold for quality and comparability.

Further discussion will allow schools and researchers to continue the debate. We would welcome wider perspectives from teachers, researchers and policymakers on this matter…