Standardised assessments will not add to workload

Deputy First Minister confirms online system will deliver results for pupils.

New standardised assessments to measure children’s progress will not add to teacher workload and will be marked automatically, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said today.

Speaking at the EIS AGM in Dundee, Mr Swinney said the Scottish Government would issue a tender later this week to buy an online system from an expert provider that would conduct the assessments contained within the new National Improvement Framework.

The online system will be in place for the 2017/18 session and use the latest technology to ensure pupil’s progress in P1, P4, P7 and S3 is easily measured by teachers without adding to their burden by asking them to mark the new assessments.

The system will quickly and automatically generate individual reports for teachers, providing information on where a child has done well and highlighting areas where support may be required. This report will be used for discussion with parents about their child’s learning, along with other assessment evidence.

Mr Swinney confirmed that all pupils in Scotland would take the new assessments, except in the most exceptional of circumstances, such as for pupils with complex additional support needs. He also said the assessments would be short and age-appropriate and reaffirmed his commitment that they would not see a return to high-stakes testing.

Mr Swinney told the EIS:

“Assessments will be as short as possible and your professional judgement will be key. You have an important role in supporting the gathering of this evidence, and of using the Framework to support your own school improvement planning. The evidence you provide through your own evaluation processes will help inform our national efforts and will help us ensure that you get the support and advice you need.

“In one of my first interviews as Education Secretary, I was asked whether the assessments will be internally or externally marked. I wasn’t ready to give an answer then. I am now.

My answer is this: that’s the wrong question and it fundamentally misunderstands what we are doing.

“You all know – because schools already use these systems – that assessment can be delivered using modern technology that provides the results automatically. No additional workload – no high-stakes, externally marked tests. It’s not internal or external. It’s automatic.

“That is the modern approach to sensible, proportionate, teacher-led assessment that we need and that is exactly what we will work with you to deliver.”


The Scottish Government will issue the tender for the purchase of the online system this week. This is not a tender to build a new system.

The assessments will be delivered online, although a provision will be included for other means of taking the assessments should a school experience significant difficulties with an online approach that cannot be overcome.

Support and training will be provided for teachers; both technical support and training for using the assessments and guidance on interpreting and using the results.


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