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The development and consequences of national curriculum assessment for primary education in England

Wyse, Dominic and Torrance, Harry (2009) The development and consequences of national curriculum assessment for primary education in England. Educational research, 51 (2). pp. 213-228. ISSN 0013-1881

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Abstract

Background: In 2008 primary education in England reached, historically, another important phase in its development. Government reviewed the primary curriculum and some aspects of the national system of assessment. These government reviews coincided with an independent Primary Review based at the University of Cambridge to which the authors of this article contributed one of the research surveys. Purpose: The main aim of the article is to review research and other evidence about the development of national curriculum assessment in England since 1988. Some historical background is also provided about the period pre-1988. Sources of evidence: The main source of evidence is significant research studies that have shown the impact of national curriculum assessment on teachers and pupils. Main argument: The evidence shows that there were gains in national curriculum test scores up to 2000 but that they then plateaued. The research evidence reveals a number of negative consequences of the implementation of a 'high stakes' national assessment system in England. Conclusions: It is concluded that greater emphasis on appropriate formative assessment strategies would be of benefit to pupils. The replacement of a high stakes assessment system with a system of sampling in order to evaluate educational progress nationally is also recommended.

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