Assessment and Visiting the Education Select Committee

The Headteachers’ Rountable is delighted to have been invited to provide oral evidence to the Education Select Committee on the 14th December 2016.  Thanks to Sally. Binks and Stephen for co-authoring our submission.  The Executive Summary is below and a copy of the full presentation available at the bottom.

Executive Summary 

  • The purpose of Primary Assessment is to support learning and enhance teaching.   To achieve this assessment must be diagnostic, formative, evaluative and summative.
  • In addition to this, fixed point standardised and summative assessments are used by central government, governors/directors and senior leaders to judge the effectiveness of the education provided by a school.
  • The removal of levels has not yet had the positive impact it could and should have had on assessment within primary schools.
  • This year’s attempt to baseline pupils nationally on entry was flawed due to a lack of comparability.  This has left schools with no comparable scores upon which to base a national value added system measuring the progress a child makes whilst at school.
  • The current assessments at Key Stage 1 fail to produce a sufficiently granular outcome on which a future value added measure could reliably be determined.
  • The use of teacher assessments at Key Stage 1 and for Writing at Key Stage 2 for accountability purposes is hugely problematic.
  • Outcomes of Standard Assessments in Year 2 and Year 6 were difficult to comprehend for many parents.
  • The advantages of assessing pupils in primary schools far outweigh the disadvantages.  Assessment provides the essential evidence base about which elements that have been taught have actually been learnt and by which children.
  • Teaching to the tests has impacted in many schools.  The high stakes accountability linked to the end of Key Stage 1 & 2 assessments has produced a curriculum which is far too narrow for a child at the ages of 7 and 11 years.
  • An overwhelming focus on assessments linked to accountability is having a negative impact on the further development of high quality assessment processes required to support learning and enhance teaching.   There needs to be a better balance achieved between these two competing elements of assessment in primary schools.
  •  Insufficient thought and planning was given by Ministers and the Department for Education about the impact of substantial concurrent changes to curriculum and assessment within a very condensed time period.
  • The SATs Reading Paper bore too little resemblance to the one exemplar paper and was far more challenging than previous year’s assessment.
  • Too little regard was given to children with Special Educational needs.
  • Schools need a period of curriculum and assessment stability.  Further change to the system of assessment within primary school must be effectively planned from the outset with a key objective to minimize disruption, workload and stress to classroom teachers.

Next Steps

  • HTRT believe that a National Baccalaureate for Primary Schools should be established based on core learning, a personal project and a personal development programme.  It would aim to help broaden the curriculum and recognise the achievements of pupils within a broader view of education.
  • The discontinuous change associated with new externally imposed assessment procedures – reception baseline, Key Stage 1 & 2 tests and criterion expected and exceeding based standards – are intrinsically linked to accountability and need to be viewed within this wider context.
  • The use of floor targets and definitions of coasting based on attainment measures should cease immediately.  These are more a measure of a school’s intake rather than the quality of the education provided to pupils.
  • To assess the effectiveness of the education offered by a primary school a contextualised multi-year value added measure should be used.  This measure must be based on the progress made by children from entry to leaving the infant/primary school.  This will require standardised objective teacher-led baseline assessment at the start of reception.
  • Key Stage 1 assessments, in their current form based on Teacher Assessment, should be discontinued and replaced with appropriate standardised, objective and granular set of assessments.  These assessments would be statutory for Infant Schools.  These Key Stage 1 assessments would be available to all other primary schools for diagnostic, formative and evaluative purposes but would not be statutory.
  • The assessment of writing must be standardised and moderated at a national level at both Key Stage 1 and 2.  Consideration should be given to a national system of moderating children’s written work using comparative judgements.
  • Once changes have been made to the assessment of writing, at the end of Key Stage 2, along with the current tests for Reading and Mathematics a contextualised value added measure may be determined using the nursery baseline assessment as the starting point.
  • Spelling, punctuation and grammar and synthetic phonics assessments should continue to be made available to schools but should be non-statutory and not be used as a separate accountability measure.

HTRT Submission to Education Select Committee

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One thought on “Assessment and Visiting the Education Select Committee

  1. […] In their submission to the Education Select Committee, the Headteachers’ Roundtable suggested retaining Key Stage 1 SATs for Infant Schools and making them optional for Primary (infants and juniors) Schools.  It’s a step in the right direction; a start of unpicking the mess. […]

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