The Scottish government literacy and numeracy tests – which have come under fire from teachers and early years campaigners – will have cost the public purse almost £8 million by the end of this school year.
According to Scottish government figures, the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSAs) are set to cost £3.4 million per academic year, with a further £1.1 million spent developing the assessments. This will bring the total cost of the standardised assessments to £7.9 million by July. The SNSAs were run for the first time in 2017-18.
Last year, Tes Scotland uncovered the cost of the assessments up to the end of the 2017-18 school year. However, education secretary John Swinney has now revealed in a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee that the tests are expected to cost a further £3.4 million this year.
When the tender for the contract to deliver the tests went out, the government estimated the cost would be £10 million over five years, excluding value-added tax. Later, the government said the cost of the contract was expected to be “around £9 million over three years”. But it is now looking like the total bill at the end of three years of testing will be over £11 million.
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Mr Swinney also told the committee that the review of the P1 tests that he ordered after MSPs voted to halt the assessments is expected to cost £50,000, and that the moderation work schools inspection body Education Scotland is carrying out with teachers – to ensure judgements about pupil performance are consistent across schools – has cost around £800,000 over three years to deliver.
The SNSAs, which take place in P1, P4, P7 and S3, were announced by first minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2015.
The P1 tests, in particular, have proven controversial, with teachers complaining that they were too long and some pupils became distressed.
Teacher also raised concerns that P1 children lacked the computing skills to navigate the online test independently, resulting in the administration of the tests becoming a huge drain on staff time.
Others question whether it is appropriate to test children at this age and stage at all, and argue the results have little or no statistical value.
The Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee will conclude its inquiry into why the government introduced the tests and if they can be expected to improve educational outcomes on Wednesday, when Mr Swinney is due to give evidence.