Benefits of standardised assessments ‘limited’ says RSE

Written by Tom Freeman on 24 November 2015 in News

Questions over lack of detail in the Scottish Government's National Improvement Framework

Proposals to introduce standardised assessments of pupils in primary schools would not offer the kind of diagnostic assessment which could help individual students improve, according to the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government also needs to articulate how the “unintended consequences” of testing can be avoided, the society of academics warned.

The Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish Science Education, which sits under the auspices of the RSE, also questioned why the Scottish Government did not issue the draft National Improvement Framework as a formal consultation.


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The Framework includes plans to introduce standardised tests in P1, P4, P7 and S3 which would replace the various systems used by different councils.

In the paper published today the RSE said these would only reflect a student’s abilities at a particular time, not over the course of the year.

The RSE hosted a roundtable discussion on the Framework with government officials, indicating that while supportive of the principal of a data-informed improvement framework, the plans do not make clear how improvements will be made.

“How will the desired improvements in attainment, including reducing the gap in attainment between those from different backgrounds, actually be achieved through the Framework?” asks the RSE paper.

At the meeting, it added, “concerns were expressed that national assessment provides evidence of performance on a particular day; that it does not reflect the uniqueness of each child’s progression through the curriculum; and that it can have negative effects on children’s self-esteem”.

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