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NFER comments on Education Committee’s Primary Assessment Report

3 May 2017

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) welcomes the Education Committee’s view that assessment provides beneficial information and insight for learning, as well as for continuous improvement and accountability following publication of its report on Primary Assessment on May 1, 2017.

The report was the result of the House of Commons Education Committee’s inquiry into recent reforms to the assessment system in primary schools and their impact on teaching and learning that was launched in September 2016.

NFER is pleased to see the Committee’s support for a focus on progress in school performance measures and for the Government’s commitment to introducing an improved baseline measure. We will be making a submission to the Department for Education’s consultation on Primary Assessment in England1 in which we will be considering the operational aspects of a baseline measure.

NFER agrees with the Committee’s observations about instilling greater confidence among teachers and the public about statutory assessments and the assessment and accountability system as a whole. In particular, we agree that there should be longer lead times when introducing new assessment initiatives to allow for relevant training in schools and to ensure teachers have the required information and knowledge.

NFER welcomes the recommendation that professional development training and support should be provided for schools to enable them to critically evaluate their formative and summative practice and the assessment tools that they use.

We also agree there is merit in exploring the proposal for a rolling three-year average of KS2 results for the purpose of school accountability, whilst retaining yearly data for individual school use. This suggestion was raised by Catherine Kirkup, Head of the NFER Centre for Assessment, who told the Committee when giving oral evidence: “I would retain the national testing but I think, as others have suggested, there is too much focus on one year’s results and I would move to rolling averages and trends so you can look at how a school is performing over time but still look at the overall attainment of all schools.”

The NFER written response submission to the Education Select Committee Primary Assessment Inquiry can be found here. Supplementary written evidence provided by NFER following the oral evidence sessions can be found here.

1 Department for Education’s Consultation on Primary Assessment in England can be found here.