Department for Education analysis of the Key Stage 1 results of 67,000 pupils that took part in the Reception baseline pilot run by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in 2015 has found a clear association between attainment at the age of four and age seven across reading, writing and maths at Key Stage 1.
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The DfE said that the analysis shows that children’s chances of reaching the expected standard in Key Stage 1 assessments increased with their Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) mark, clearly demonstrating the baseline assessment’s validity as an appropriate starting point to measure pupil progress.
The relationship between children’s marks in the RBA and Key Stage 1 (KS1) assessments exists across all areas – reading, writing and maths – both individually and combined.
The DfE has released the analysis as around 9,400 schools take part in the pilot of the Reception baseline this term.
It follows research earlier this week from campaigners More than A Score, which highlighted significant opposition among primary headteachers to the tests for four-year-olds, despite the thousands of schools that have signed up for the optional pilot.
It said that many schools felt compelled to take part in the pilot, even though they do not agree with Reception baseline testing.
Last year, the NFER was awarded the four-year £10m contract by the DfE to develop the Reception Baseline, including trialling, piloting and the first two statutory years of delivering it from September 2020.
The DfE analysis was carried out by comparing data from pupils who took part in the previous optional NFER RBA in 2015, with the same pupils' data following KS1 assessments.
Of the around 70,000 pupils who participated in the NFER RBA, around 67,000 pupils (96 per cent) have valid KS1 results for summer 2018 and are included in this analysis.
The DfE report said, 'This analysis shows that the difference in RBA mark between the KS1 outcomes is statistically significant for the three assessments we have looked at, and this provides support for the relationship between RBA mark and KS1 result.’
According to the findings, for every one mark increase in the RBA, the odds of reaching the expected standard in all three teacher assessments at KS1 increased by 10 per cent.
For every one mark increase, the odds of reaching the expected standard in reading increased by 11 per cent, in maths the odds were also 11 per cent, and for writing 10 per cent.
School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said, ‘The baseline assessment will be a quick check of a child’s early language and maths skills, but more importantly it will be a check of our school system. It will also mean the end of burdensome Key Stage 1 tests, and give teachers more valuable one-to-one time with their pupils in their first weeks of school.
‘This research shows that the baseline assessment will provide a strong foundation from which we can measure pupil progress, and make sure schools are providing the high quality of education that every child deserves.’
The DfE has also published ‘a fact box’ for parents, which is copied below.
WHAT IS IT?
The reception baseline assessment (RBA) is a short interactive assessment to give a snapshot of each child’s abilities when they arrive at school.
The RBA pilot is running at just over 9,400 schools from September 2019 and will be rolled out across all schools from September 2020.
WHAT IS IT FOR?
The point of the RBA is to find out a starting point for each child’s language, communication and early maths ability. This is so we can measure the progress of each school year from when they start primary school until when they end primary school in year 6. This also means key stage 1 assessments will no longer be compulsory for schools.
WHAT DOES MY CHILD HAVE TO DO FOR THE RBA?
The RBA is a 20 minute one-to-one check with either the teacher or teaching assistant which will take place within the first 6 weeks of a child starting reception.
Your child will be asked to complete different tasks and activities to give the school an idea of their language, communication and early maths skills. The RBA is interactive and practical, asking children to give verbal responses, pointing or moving objects.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?
Nothing. This is not a test of individual children, and will be taken in a relaxed environment. You do not have to prepare your child for this, and neither do schools.
HOW DO I FIND OUT IF MY SCHOOL IS TAKING PART IN THE PILOT?
Ask your child’s school or headteacher if they are participating in the pilot.
IS THIS TO IDENTIFY THE HIGH AND LOW ACHIEVING CHILDREN AS SOON AS THEY START SCHOOL?
This is not about judging or labelling reception children or putting them under pressure. It is not used to track individual children and will instead be used to measure the progress of whole year groups, as they progress through primary school.
WILL THIS MEAN EXTRA SUPPORT FOR MY CHILD IF THIS ASSESSMENT IDENTIFIES THEY ARE BEHIND?
Teachers will receive a series of short, narrative statements that tell them how children performed in the assessment which may be useful to inform teaching in the first term. However, teachers are already trained to identify if children are in need of extra support and will intervene where needed, regardless of the RBA taking place.
CAN I OPT MY CHILD OUT?
Given that this is only a short check of a child’s early abilities and will not follow them through school or be used for labelling or streaming, you should not need to. However, if you do with to withdraw your child, you can discuss this with your head teacher.
CAN I FIND OUT MY CHILD’S MARKS?
Marks will not be shared.