Assessment Issues and the National Curriculum I: National Curriculum Assessment at Key Stage 1
One major consequence, among several, of the introduction of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 1 was to confront early years teachers with the requirement to carry out assessments of their pupils' academic progress and attainments in a far more systematic and explicit way than most of them had done before. Tbis was a major challenge to the profession for, as Gipps et al., 1995 described, British primary teachers, traditionally, were relatively unsophisticated in their approach to assessment. Tbe evidence from studies of assessment practice prior to the National Curriculum showed that the ongoing, day to day classroom assessment carried out by the majority of primary teachers was of a highly intuitive 'in the head' kind. Tbis was not surprising, as Gipps et al. point out since there was an absence of a syllabus, bench marks or criteria for teachers to focus on when evaluating their children's classroom performance. Schools sometimes apply standardized tests, usually in reading and mathematics, but the information they yielded rarely influenced teaching decisions (Gipps et al., 1983). In addition, of course, teachers used their own informal classroom tests, marked children's work and kept some form of progress record. On the whole though early years teachers adopted an essentially
informal holistic approach to their assessment with the aim of finding out 'where to go next' in their teaching (PoHard et al., 1994).