Standardised testing will not compare schools, insists Scottish Government

Written by Tom Freeman on 22 September 2017 in News

No league tables from standardised primary tests, says John Swinney

School test - credit Melanie Holtsman

The Scottish Government has said it will only publish national trends from standardised school testing, amid claims teachers are ready to boycott the scheme.

New standardised assessments were introduced this summer to measure how well students are performing in numeracy and literacy, but critics have warned they will lead to league tables among primary schools.

But Education Secretary John Swinney today confirmed the public data will not include school-by-school results but instead focus on national trends so a national picture of standards can be drawn.


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The announcement comes after teaching unions warned councils they would boycott the tests if pupils were made to sit them all at the same time.

It is also thought a number of Swinney’s international education advisers do not approve of the tests, particularly in the early years of primary school.

Speaking to an international education conference in Glasgow today, Swinney said: “The Scottish Government will have access to national level data only, to help us identify trends, including strengths and weaknesses in particular aspects of literacy and numeracy.

“This will, in turn, inform national policy, and drive support and improvement priorities to enhance the education and life chances of our young people.”

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan welcomed the clarification, but warned not all councils have agreed to the guidelines.

“The Deputy First Minister was clear that the new assessments are intended to serve as a diagnostic tool to be utilised by teachers to support their own professional judgement of pupil progress. It remains to be seen how useful teachers find the assessments in practice,” he said.

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said the government should “ditch the policy altogether”, while Scottish Lib Dem Tavish Scott warned league tables could still be compiled “by the back door”.

“SNP ministers must now make clear whether local authorities will hold pupil and class breakdowns and whether it will be possible for others to obtain this data under freedom of information in order to construct their own school league tables,” he said.

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