Primary Assessment – a report, a consultation and a Kyra submssion

Kyra is currently working with a number of colleagues to provide a collective response to the DfE’s consultation on primary assessment. The consultation deadline is 22nd June.

Here we have included some key information relating to the consultation and the select committee’s own inquiry and recommendations for primary assessment.

 DfE consultation

 The DfE announced, on 30 March, its consultation on the future of assessment in primary schools and the implications for accountability. The consultation considers: the current system of statutory assessment in key stages 1 and 2; preparing children to succeed at school; the best starting point for measuring progress in primary school; a proportionate assessment system; and improving end of key stage statutory teacher assessment. The deadline for responses to the consultation is Thursday 22 June. The proposals in the consultation aim to create a long-term, stable and proportionate system for assessing children at primary school. The consultation proposes (source: DfE):

  • improvements to the early years foundation stage profile – consulting on how to make improvements and reduce burdens to the existing assessments on children’s readiness to start school at the end of their early education
  • bringing forward the starting point for school progress measures during primary education – through the introduction of a new teacher-mediated assessment in reception, developed with the profession, to ensure schools are measured on how they support every child throughout primary school
  • reviewing the statutory status of key stage 1 (KS1) assessment – to reduce the burden of statutory assessment for teachers and pupils, the government will consult on making assessments at the end of KS1 – both teacher assessment frameworks and national curriculum tests – in English reading, English writing, mathematics and science non-statutory once the new assessment in reception is fully established. Under these proposals, schools will still be provided with test materials at KS1 to help them benchmark their pupils and inform parents. The government would continue to ensure academic standards remain high by sampling from schools that administered the tests.
  • reducing the burdens of teacher assessment – reducing the burdens on teachers by removing the requirement to submit teacher assessments where the assessment is not used in the accountability of schools. The government is also considering whether there should be greater flexibility for teachers to use their judgement to assess pupils’ ability in writing.

 

Further information can be found in the primary assessment consultation: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/primary-assessment-in-england; in Justine Greening’s statement to parliament on primary assessment in England: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/update-on-primary-assessment-in-england; and in the associated press release: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-consult-on-reforms-to-primary-assessment-system

Education Select Committee report into primary assessment

Last autumn, the House of Commons Education Committee began an inquiry on primary assessment.

School leaders and teachers from across Kyra contributed to the Committee’s call for evidence, and our paper can be accessed here: http://kyrateachingschool.com/wp-content/uploads/FINAL-Kyra-submission-on-primary-assessment.pdf. The Committee’s final report was published 1st May 2017 and makes the following recommendations (The main recommendation for schools is cited below in italics-(ninth bullet point)):

  • The Government must introduce longer lead-in times for future changes to assessment or standards, to mitigate the negative impacts of constant change, and the process of communication must be improved. The time allocated for design and delivery should enable schools to be given thorough information about changes at least a year before they will be implemented, without incremental changes throughout the year.
  • The Committee remains to be convinced that the STA (Standards and Testing Agency) will be able to meet all the recommendations set out in the ‘root and branch’ review, and recommend that the Government should commission a further short review following the 2017 SATs. (Note that the ‘root and branch’ review of the STA was announced by Nick Gibb following security breaches during the administration of the 2016 key stage 1 and key stage 2 national curriculum tests. The review took place between July and September 2016 and made a number of recommendations, which the STA responded to).
  • An independent panel of experts and teachers should review the development process to improve confidence amongst school leaders and teachers.
  • The STA should do more to explain the development process of national curriculum assessments to schools and ensure that teachers have confidence that they are involved from an appropriate stage.
  • Recommend the Department should make the Key Stage 2 spelling, punctuation and grammar test non-statutory, but still available for schools for internal monitoring.
  • Professional development training on effective assessment procedures should be carried out by senior leaders and classroom teachers after ITE. This should include assessment for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum assessments. The Government should provide adequate resource for this training as part of its commitment to continuing professional development.
  • The availability of more high quality advice and guidance would mitigate the risk of schools purchasing low-quality assessment systems from commercial providers.
  • Ofsted should ensure that it reports on a broad and balanced curriculum in every primary school report. Every report should specifically include science as a core subject alongside English and maths, as well as a range of other areas of the curriculum and extra-curricular activities.
  • School leaders and governors should support a culture of wellbeing amongst staff and pupils and ensure that external assessment does not result in unnecessary stress for pupils. The Government should assess the impact of changes to curriculum and standards on teacher and pupil wellbeing before they are introduced and publish plans to avoid such negative consequences.
  • The Government should change what is reported in performance tables to help lower the stakes associated with them and reduce issues of using data from a small number of pupils. Recommend publishing a rolling three year average of Key Stage 2 results instead of results from a single cohort. Yearly cohort level data should still be available for schools for use in their own internal monitoring.
  • The Government must conduct a thorough evaluation of potentially harmful consequences of introducing any baseline measure, involving early years experts and practitioners, including impacts on pupil wellbeing and teaching and learning. The primary purpose of a measure of children at age 4 should be a diagnostic tool to help early years practitioners identify individual needs of pupils and should only be carried out through teacher assessment.
  • Agree with the Government’s aim of raising standards at primary school but think that setting extremely challenging targets only leaves many students feeling they have failed, when in a previous year they would have succeeded. Expected standards should be raised over a much longer time period to give schools a chance to adjust to new expectations.
  • Recommend a thorough review of how Ofsted inspectors use Key Stage 2 data to inform their judgements and whether inspectors rely too heavily on data over observation. This could include a pilot of inspections where data is only considered following the inspection.

Further details can be found: https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmeduc/682/682.pdf

#KyraJournal