National testing pilots fail to take off in Scotland

Target start date of August looks to be in doubt

Emma Seith

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Not a single school has started to pilot the new national standardised tests in literacy and numeracy due to be introduced in August, TESS can reveal.

A survey of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, carried out by TESS, shows that no councils have started to trial the controversial new tests, which will assess pupils’ abilities in reading, writing and maths in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

This puts the government more than half a year behind its original schedule – which envisaged the pilots starting in June 2016 – and at least two months behind the revised timetable, which stated that they would take place between December 2016 and May this year.

News of the delay prompted an angry response from the EIS union, which opposed the national assessments, while assessment expert Louise Hayward, of the University of Glasgow, questioned whether the government would now be able to introduce the tests at the start of the new school year.

“What was originally a very ambitious timeline appears to be narrowing even more,” said Professor Hayward.

The government insisted, however, that the assessments would be ready for August as planned, with initial pilots taking place in Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, the Western Isles and Fife, before spreading to more authorities.

However, some councils appeared to be unaware of their involvement: when TESS contacted Fife, the authority said it was not taking part in the pilots.

National testing fully ended in Scotland in 2010 with the introduction of Curriculum for Excellence. When the government announced a new form of nationwide assessment in 2015, union leaders warned that this “crushes creativity” and causes “unnecessary stress” .

But the government has always maintained that the assessments would help teachers by providing a more accurate and Scotland-wide picture of what works in classrooms, and that they would not lead to “teaching to the test”.

This is an edited version of an article in the 3 February edition of TESS. Subscribers can view the full story here. To subscribe, click here. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here. You can also download the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. TESS magazine is available at all good newsagents.

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Emma Seith

Emma Seith

Emma Seith is a reporter for TES Scotland

Find me on Twitter @Emma_Seith

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