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Baseline assessment and the commodification of 4-year-olds' knowledge

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 May 2016

Guy Roberts-Holmes
Last month, the Government withdrew its requirement for schools to use officially endorsed Baseline assessment in Reception classes. This regime, I would contest, was not simply about children and their learning, nor assessment or accountability. Rather, baseline was as an attempt to further regulate early education for edu-business. What baseline assessment did was to datafy and commodify four-year-olds’ knowledge and learning for profit. Although baseline is no longer mandatory, the DfE is still urging schools to buy the commercially produced assessments. Baseline has become a part of the growing educational digital data economy in which new forms of educational data knowledge are generated, commodified and sold for profit. It is claimed that datasets such as baseline have the potential to offer unprecented digital data governance. So, for example, baseline data on four year olds can be ‘scaled up’ and agreggated into big datasets of commercial interest and governance.
Around 12,000 primary schools adopted one of the three edu-businesses who were selected by the DfE to run the baseline assessments at an estimated cost of £3.5-£4.5 million (excluding the costs to schools employing supply cover whilst the Reception (more…)