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The indicators start to flash

Aberdeen researchers warn that Scottish Office plans for baseline assessment will produce flawed data

Christine Compton, head of Culter primary, is cautiously optimistic that Aberdeen's performance indicators will prove an effective management aid.

Apart from some computer difficulties, the first year was relatively painless. The tests confirmed teacher judgments and evidence from nursery staff. They gave staff confidence.

"We did not get any shocks," she says. "The difference in the first year is that it was actually stating in black and white, particularly the able pupils, what levels they were coming with and therefore posed the question what we were going to do for them. Their baseline is higher and that was confirmed by our early intervention.

"This year, we are much sharper off the mark in all aspects in what we are doing in primary 1 and primary 2 with more focused and more targeted learning. "

Parents did not object and saw it as part of routine assessment.

Isabel Bolton, head of Kingswells primary, and Brenda McGovern, head of Braeside nursery and infant school, are still coming to grips with PIPS. Mrs McGovern states: "It will be another two to three years before we can patterns coming through. At this point it is important we do not make simple judgments on the data.

"It will raise interesting questions as time goes on."

Mrs Bolton believes the data cannot be used "in isolation" but should be used to influence class teaching.

"It is early days to say teachers are embracing it," Mrs McGovern says.

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