1. The Scottish Ministers have commissioned an independent review of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) at P1 level within the overall context of the National Improvement Framework (NIF). The review will consider the approach to P1 assessments looking specifically at whether the assessments meet their stated aims; require modification; or whether there is no value in continuing with national assessments at this level.
2. The SNSA in P1, P4, P7 and S3 were introduced in August 2017. The on-line assessments were designed to align to Curriculum for Excellence, to be adaptive, inclusive and accessible, providing data at a diagnostic level. The data from the assessments are just one part of the evidence that will help inform teacher judgement on how a child is progressing on aspects of numeracy and literacy within a CfE level. P1 assessments have historically been widely used in local authorities and the SNSA seeks to build on that practice by bringing national consistency and ensuring alignment with CfE, whilst providing helpful diagnostic information for teachers to plan learning and teaching.
Who will carry out the review
3. The review will be carried out by David Reedy. Mr Reedy was Co-Director of the Cambridge Primary Review Trust from 2013-17 and has served as both General Secretary and President of the UK Literacy Association. He has also previously held the post of Principal Adviser Primary Schools in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. Mr Reedy has a wealth of relevant experience and has not been involved in the recent debate on P1 assessments in Scotland allowing him to bring a fresh and impartial perspective to the review.
4. Mr Reedy will be supported in carrying out the review by Dr Eve Bearne, a retired educational researcher, writer and university lecturer. She was Senior Research Associate at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. Dr Bearne taught on the Masters in Education for many years as well as on post-graduate programmes, has carried out wide-ranging research and published a number of education texts, books and articles.
5. Mr Reedy and Dr Bearne will be supported by a small review team who are familiar with the Scottish context. Following discussions with Mr Reedy and Dr Bearne, this team will comprise two members of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education with relevant expertise in the early years and primary education. Mr Reedy and Dr Bearne will engage directly with practitioners, including from the early years during the course of the review.
6. Secretariat for the review will be provided by Scottish Government staff not involved in SNSA work.
Who will be invited to contribute
7. A key focus of the Review will be engagement with practitioners who have direct experience of the P1 assessments. Mr Reedy is particularly keen to speak to staff who have carried out the assessments during the 2018-2019 academic session, given the changes that have been made to the assessments for this year. The review will have access to the views of teachers via the user feedback survey which is now available to practitioners when they carry out the assessments. Mr Reedy intends to explore with schools and local authorities the possibility of observing the assessments in practice and of speaking to the children undertaking them.
8. The review will also seek the views of those with an interest in the assessments, including local authorities, professional associations, parent groups, early years experts, voluntary sector organisations, academics and the Gaelic education community in respect of the Gaelic standardised assessments.
9. If you would like to contribute to the review, please email firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 1 March 2019. Contributions based on experience of the assessments in session 2018-2019 would be particularly welcome.
10. In considering your contribution, please bear in mind the time constraints for the review. You will also wish to note that in preparing for the review Mr Reedy and Dr Bearne have read the EIS survey, the SNSA User Review and other materials on the operation of the assessments in session 2017-2018. They have also read the submissions provided to the Scottish Parliament Education and Skills Committee’s current Scottish National Standardised Assessment inquiry.
Terms of reference
11. The review will consider and provide recommendations on the following issues:
- the compatibility of the P1 assessments with the play based approach to early level of CfE
- the alignment of the P1 assessments to the benchmarks for early level
- the effect of taking an on-line assessment on P1 children
- the usefulness of the diagnostic information provided to teachers and how it supports their professional judgement
- the implications of the review for the ongoing development of the national Gaelic Medium Education standardised assessments (MCNG)
- the future of the P1 assessments considering in particular whether they continue in line with the current continuous improvement model; be substantially modified; or should they be stopped
12. In considering the terms of reference, Mr Reedy was clear that, given the time available and the broader inquiry being carried out by the Education and Skills Committee, the review should focus specifically on P1 assessments. It was also decided to focus on the SNSA themselves and not to include wider issues, such as the use of standardised assessments in other jurisdictions.
Timing of the review
13. The review team has already begun its work by studying the assessments and other relevant documentation, and a programme of engagement with practitioners and other stakeholders is being developed. Mr Reedy has undertaken to submit his report to the Deputy First Minister by the end of May 2019. The recommendations of the review will subsequently be brought back to Parliament for consideration.
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