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It's here! : The Pearson School Report 2024

We’ve just launched our highly anticipated 2024 Pearson School Report, which brings together over 12,000+ teacher, student and sector voices on education – the challenges, solutions in action, and opportunities for the future.

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Recent news and blog posts

  • CentreForum report backs judging pupils' progress

    Regular readers of this blog will know that we have long argued that the fairest and most effective way to judge schools is by the progress their pupils make.

    We’re delighted, then, to have launched a new report, together with the CentreForum think tank, on this issue: Progress matters in Primary too: Holding schools to account consistently.

    Following on from an earlier report on secondary school accountability, the report argues that pupil progress, rather than attainment, should be the principal floor target for primary schools, for the following reasons:

    • A progress measure encourages schools to focus on all pupils, because the performance of all pupils counts equally towards school performance by that measure. An attainment-based measure has the potential to encourage schools to focus more narrowly on pupils near the threshold, because it is here that schools stand to make the most gains in their measured performance. Consequently, pupils far below the expected standard risk being left behind, while those far above may not be adequately stretched.
    • A progress measure considers pupil performance in light of their individual starting points. In this way it is able to better identify the impact of the school from circumstances outside of its control, i.e. the prior attainment of its intake. An attainment measure puts schools with lower prior-attainment intakes at an inherent and unfair disadvantage, because such intakes are less predisposed to meeting the attainment standards.

    The report also addresses the thorny issue of baseline assessment, arguing that an effective baseline assessment, administered to pupils in their first half-term of Reception, is fundamental to creating a progress measure. It acknowledges that there are valid concerns around the introduction of a baseline assessment, but believes that these can be overcome.

    The report ends with two recommendations:

    1. Pupil progress is the fairest and most effective accountability measure, and should therefore be adopted by government as its principal headline accountability measure for primary schools.
    1. To support pupil progress becoming the principal headline accountability measure for primary schools, the government should provide clear, defensible evidence that the baseline assessment which underpins it is valid, fair and reliable.

    We hope that this report will prove useful in this highly-charged debate. Do let us know what you think.

  • 10 jobs Primary teachers do as well as teach

    As you know, we believe teachers are superheroes. There are so many skills that go into being a Primary school teacher that we can't even count them, but here are 10 we thought you might recognise!

    Please feel free to tell us about other skills you'd like to see mentioned.

  • We're on the verge of big changes in assessment


    Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment, written by Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor Sir Michael Barber and assessment expert Dr Peter Hill, says that new technologies will transform assessment and testing in education.

    In a Q&A session about the essay, Barber says, “We are about to see big changes in the possibilities of assessment as a result of technology. Current assessment systems around the world are deeply wedded to traditional testing and exams and, some might argue, are holding us back from potential reforms. We should seize the opportunity and not cling to the past.”

    According to the authors:

    • Adaptive testing (for example, tests that evolve in real time on screen) will help generate more accurate tests and reduce the amount of time schools spend on testing
    • Smarter, automated marking of exams will help improve accuracy and reduce the time teachers spend marking “rote” answers
    • Technology will help combine student performance across multiple papers and subjects.
    • Assessment will provide on-going feedback, which, will help personalise teaching and improve learning.
    • New digital technologies will minimise opportunities for cheating in exams or “gaming the system”.
    • The essay argues that current assessment methods are no longer working, so that even the top performing education systems in the world have hit a performance ceiling.

    The authors set out a ‘Framework for Action’ that details the steps that should be taken for “policymakers, schools, school-system leaders and other key players to prepare for the assessment renaissance” (1):

    1. Think long-term - we don’t know when the renaissance will arrive but we need to be prepared by investing in the capacity to bring it about

    2. Build partnerships - we need to build partnerships between teachers and governments, and everyone working in education and technology

    3. Create the infrastructure - having high quality technological infrastructure at all levels in the system, including at individual schools level, is critical

    4. Develop teacher capacity - invest in developing teachers’ familiarity with both technology and sophisticated assessment

    5. Allow variation in implementation - encourage schools and teachers to innovate with a framework for implementation and learn from the most successful examples

    6. Adopt a delivery approach - make it a priority, plan ahead, ensure routine check-ins with all key players and make clear who is responsible

    7. Communicate consistently - from government and leading educators working together and from school leaders to parents

    8. Apply the change knowledge - our starting point needs to be our knowledge base of what it takes to achieve successful, system-wide change including building a shared vision and learning from pioneers.

    Barber and Hill conclude the essay by saying that the significance of the coming renaissance in assessment should not be underestimated and “that it will help secure high standards for all, remove current achievement ceilings and support a focus on… skills vital for living and learning in the twenty-first century.” (2)

    (1) Barber & Hill, Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment, 64.

    (2) Barber & Hill, Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment, 70.

    This article is a summary of:

    Barber, M. & Hill, P. (2014). Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment. London: Pearson.

    Preparing for a Renaissance in Assessment is available to download below. Summary written by Vikki Weston.

    See an interactive page-turn version of the essay here

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