Improving standardised assessments

Deputy First Minister announces improvements for pupils and teachers for this school year.

Enhancements will be made to the way children and young people are assessed at school to provide a better experience for younger pupils and give more advice to teachers.

The Scottish Government has published a review of the first year of standardised assessments, which take place in P1, P4, P7 and S3 to help teachers judge progress on a child's learning.

It finds that, during the first year of implementation, children on the whole rated the assessments as 'accessible and stimulating' while teachers were 'very pleased' with the information the assessments provided.

Enhancements made during this academic year reflect continuous improvement and take on board feedback. Changes will include:

For Primary 1:

  • Some questions have been changed to ensure a more familiar context for P1 pupils, while retaining the same level of difficulty.
  • A Primary 1 practitioner forum of teachers and professional groups will look at all aspects of the P1 assessments to provide the best possible experience for children.

For all assessment stages:

  • Children will be asked to rate their experience at the end of each assessment.
  • Teachers will be able to provide feedback at any time and there will be an annual, random survey of teachers.
  • The assessments training package will include case studies, video hints and tips to help teachers with successful classroom management.
  • The public facing website for parents and practitioners will be updated.
  • A third of questions have been updated.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said:

"Standardised assessments provide consistent evidence for teachers to identify the next steps in a child's learning, which is especially valuable in the early years if we are to continue to close the attainment gap. Today I am announcing a range of changes and improvements to enhance our approach.

"Our review found that children generally rated the assessments as accessible and stimulating, while teachers were pleased with the information provided by the assessments. I have listened to the range of feedback and changes this year should further improve the experience for learners and provide extra reassurance to teachers and parents.

"While Primary 1 questions were deemed to be at an appropriate level of difficulty, many will be refreshed so that they provide a more familiar context for children. Training and advice for teachers will be improved and children undertaking the assessments will be asked for feedback. Communication with parents is vital and the website information has been updated.

"The assessments should be delivered as part of everyday learning and teaching. These are not 'high stakes' assessments - there is no pass or fail and there is no time limit. The average time taken to complete a Primary 1 assessment is less than an hour and that is a very short amount of time to give teachers information to help plan a child's progress to the next steps in learning."


Standardised assessments user review.

In 2017-18:

  • More than 578,000 assessments were taken.
  • Training reached more than 7,700 participants and help materials are available at all times on-line.
  • The support desk responded effectively to more than 6,000 enquiries.

The Scottish Government has today also published:

  • An open letter from Deputy First Minister John Swinney to parents of primary 1 children.
  • Further teacher feedback on the first year of assessments recently received from the EIS. This is in addition to feedback from the EIS already published. 

Parents can talk to their child's school at any time about standardised assessments or any other aspect of their education. Further information is available at:


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