Assessments for five-year-olds are to be radically slimmed down, with reception teachers grading children against just 17 learning goals rather than the current 69, the Government has announced.
The change, due to be implemented in September 2012, is one of several adopted by ministers after an inquiry into the early years foundation stage (EYFS) framework by Dame Clare Tickell, chief executive of Action for Children. The revised framework is out to consultation.
The Government has almost entirely accepted her recommendations on the EYFS profile, which is carried out at the end of reception.
The current profile asks teachers to assess pupils against 13 nine-point scales, which involved a total of 117 statements. The new profile suggests that pupils are assessed against 17 scales and given one of just three judgments: emerging, expected or exceeding.
The new framework also no longer has a separate phonics assessment, with children's understanding of phonics to be included within teachers' overall assessments of both reading and writing instead.
The consultation draft also backs the idea of a new progress check for every two-year-old in early education. Dame Clare's recommendation that independent schools be able to apply for group exemptions is to be consulted on separately.
But the draft profile does not include her recommendation that the EYFS profiles be accompanied by assessments of children's "learning characteristics" that detail how they prefer to learn.
Megan Pacey, chief executive of Early Education, a national body for early-years practitioners, said: "We were very pleased with the review that Dame Clare made and I'm a little disappointed that this document seems to indicate a number of missed opportunities, such as the work on learning characteristics."
MPs warn phonics could harm reading
The Government's focus on phonics could contribute to a decline in reading standards, a group of MPs has warned. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Education has called on the Government to do more to emphasise the importance of reading for pleasure, including greater support for libraries.