A primary headteacher has told Tes Scotland that the new national assessments in literacy for P1 pupils are “too difficult” and made her pupils stressed and anxious.
The head, who asked not to be named, says that her school serves an affluent area and some of the children come to school already knowing how to read, but they had struggled with the questions – some of which involved reading four pages worth of text.
Although the online tests are meant to adapt according to the performance of each pupil, they do not do this well enough, the headteacher says. One P1 pupil got seven answers wrong with no apparent easing of difficulty, she adds.
The average time for completing the test was 50 minutes, she estimates. But some pupils took longer and others had to pause the test and come back later. In schools where ability is lower, the P1 literacy test will have to be broken up into chunks, she believes.
Ultimately, her school took a month to put two P1 classes – or 48 children – through the assessment. The P1s had to have one-on-one support because they did not have the computer skills to complete the tests – for instance they struggled to use a mouse to click on to the next page of the test.
The head says that the tests at P4 and P7 are worthwhile but the P1 literacy test is “a waste of time”. She adds: “Putting children through a test knowing they are not going to get success, it’s a horrible feeling. I feel that the P1 test will have no reliable information I can use to judge where my P1s are because I don’t think what they were being asked to do was appropriate. They just put stress on my children.”
A Scottish government spokesman says that a lot of feedback from schools on the P1 literacy assessment has been positive and all feedback will be taken into account when “enhancing the assessments for next year”.