A new paper, published by TACTYC, outlines its broad criticism of the government’s plans to test four year-olds
The proposed testing of 4-year-olds in order to judge schools seven years later has been slammed in a paper issued today by The Association for Professional Development in Early Years (TACTYC). Chair, Dr Jan Georgeson, said: “young children will be used as unwitting subjects in an experiment which is bound to fail”.
The TACTYC paper responds to details of the government’s planned national pilot of reception class baseline testing released by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). It says the STA framework fails to address the substantive problems with baseline assessment that have been repeatedly identified by education experts, teachers and parents.
“The new information about the content and administration of the test shows clearly that it is not fit for purpose, and will be detrimental to children, teachers and schools,” said Georgeson.
“Children starting school will be confronted with a one-to-one test on their knowledge of maths and literacy, for the sole purpose of producing data to judge schools seven years later,” Georgeson added.
“Teachers have much better ways of finding out about the children in order to help them learn. This will simply take them away from that important job in the early weeks and instead make teachers waste hours in creating dodgy data that won’t give a reliable picture of each child and won’t predict how children will perform on tests years later.”
The TACTYC paper ‘Young children as guinea pigs: the Reception Baseline Assessment Framework’, criticises the government’s plan to ‘black box’ the test results so that schools and parents will not be told scores for individual children (which will be held in the national pupil database).
According to TACTYC, this raises ‘serious questions regarding the rights of parents to the data held on their child – and to give permission for the data to be generated in the first place. This is data produced and held without parental consent or oversight, regarding children who are not even yet of statutory school age.’
TACTYC says STA plans not to share results with schools are contradicted by giving teachers a ‘narrative summary’ of each child. This risks labelling children and beginning a cycle of low expectations and entrenching disadvantage for some children.
TACTYC accuses the government of deciding ‘to count what is easily counted, but not what actually counts’ by dropping self-regulation from the test. It describes self-regulation as a ‘significant factor in children’s learning and a strong predictor of progress’, while pointing out that critics had predicted that self-regulation could not be measured in such a brief test situation.