Nicola Sturgeon announces plans to introduce national testing to Scottish schools

A national system of standardised testing is to be introduced to all Scottish primary and secondary schools in 2017, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

Ms Sturgeon said she had “no desire to see crude league tables that distort rather than enhance” but added that she was “determined to make available much more information about performance in primary and lower secondary”.

The new national assessments – to be delivered to pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3 and developed in partnership with local government, teachers and parents – would replace the variety of different assessments already used by local authorities, Ms Sturgeon said, as she unveiled the Scottish government’s plans for the final year of this parliamentary term.

The tests, which will focus on literacy and numeracy, will be trialled in schools involved in the Scottish Attainment Challenge this year and rolled out in 2017 to all schools, the first minister added.

Scotland’s largest teaching union said it would have “opposed resolutely” a return to the failed high-stakes testing regime of the past but that was not what the Scottish government was proposing. However, local authorities body Cosla warned that the proposals could “turn the clock back to national testing and, whether intended or not, league tables”. It criticised ministers for failing to consult on the draft national improvement framework published to coincide with Ms Sturgeon’s announcement.

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS teaching union, said: “The Scottish government’s intention to create a Scottish-designed bank of standardised tests to support teachers’ professional judgement would appear to be designed to build on the ethos of Curriculum for Excellence rather than undermining it. It is essential, however, that the mistakes of the past are not repeated and that safeguards are put in place to avoid the misuse of data generated through the proposed assessment changes.”

Stephanie Primrose, Cosla education spokesperson, said: “If not handled correctly this risks being a retrograde step for Scottish education that heaps more pressure on pupils and teachers and leads to inaccurate and unfair comparisons between schools.”

The draft of the national improvement framework is published here:

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