The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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Reading is easy – so why bother to assess phonological awareness in young children?

By Diane King

We live in a society that places a high value on literacy skills and, if nothing else, we expect schools to teach our children to read and write. However, literacy difficulties are common and can be persistent, impacting not only on school experience, academic achievement and later life choices, but also on many practical issues of daily living. Continue reading


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Why language skills must be a key feature of any Reception Baseline Assessment

By Diane King

The new Reception Baseline Assessment is essentially an accountability measure but, at NFER, we believe that it can also be a useful tool for teachers to identify children who may benefit from extra support.  In these early years, it is particularly important to ensure that children have good language skills so that they can access the curriculum and make good progress throughout the rest of their school years. Continue reading


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Validity and baseline assessment

By Marian Sainsbury, assessment expert, former Primary teacher, and NFER research associate

Much of the recent controversy about baseline assessment has centred on arguments about its validity. However, this term is widely used and abused with little attention to its real meaning – for example, the phrase ‘statistically invalid’ in a recent letter to the Guardian is literally meaningless. Continue reading