Baseline assessment data 'inaccurate and unreliable'

Reception baseline test does not fully assess language development or literacy knowledge, warn experts

Amy Gibbons

Reception baseline assessment will not fully assess children's capabilities, warns UKLA

The new baseline assessment for four- and five-year olds has "no diagnostic value" and provides "no mechanism through which to promote positive outcomes for children", literacy experts have claimed.

The Reception baseline assessment (RBA), which will become statutory in September 2021, will not provide an "accurate account of children's communication, language and literacy development" or "reliable predictive data" through which progress can be measured, according to the UK Literacy Association (UKLA).

The assessment, which evaluates children's skills in English and maths, is designed to provide a baseline for the Department for Education in measuring pupils' progress between their first weeks in school and their final Sats results in Year 6.


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Speaking during this morning's Westminster Education Forum on primary assessment, Lucy Rodriguez-Leon, co-convenor of the UKLA Early Years Literacy in Education Special Interest Group, said the association has "some concerns about the design" of the proposed RBA for communication, language and literacy.

Warning over Reception baseline assessment

"Its focus on only vocabulary, chronological awareness and comprehension means that it assesses a very narrow aspect of language development and a very limited subset of literacy knowledge," she said.

"And it doesn't really appear to include any components that would really elicit a child's communicative capabilities.

"It's UKLA's position that the proposed assessment will not provide an accurate account of children's communication, language and literacy development, or provide reliable predictive data upon which value-added attainment can be measured throughout the primary schools.

"As a school evaluation tool, the assessment results have no diagnostic value, but also no mechanism through which to promote positive outcomes for children.

"The first few weeks of Reception class, of course, are crucial to establish positive teacher-pupil relationships, and to promote children's self-confidence and wellbeing in that new classroom environment. And this, in our view, is where teachers' time and effort should be directed."

Dr Rodriguez-Leon also said the UKLA has concerns that the "process of conducting the assessment will influence teachers' perception of children and their capabilities".

Last month, the government announced it would be postponing introducing the controversial RBA until 2021.

The decision to delay September's start by a year came only two months after the Department for Education rebuffed early years campaigners' calls for the baseline to be delayed "by at least a year", as learning had been "so disrupted" by the coronavirus.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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