Value of testing at age five is ‘negligible’, say Tories

The educational value of testing four- and five-year-olds in literacy and numeracy is “negligible”, the Scottish Conservatives have said, questioning whether it is appropriate to subject P1 children to formal exams.

Shadow education secretary Liz Smith made the statement despite her party being among the most fervent supporters of the Scottish government’s plans to introduce national testing in primary and secondary. The Conservative have made repeated calls for “consistent benchmarking on pupil performance across Scotland” and have taken the credit for “pushing” the SNP to accept standardised testing.

The concerns over P1 testing came as the government this week released its “blueprint” for education in the coming years, claiming it wanted to move towards a “system of judgement” that provided “robust information on the education system to support improvement”.

The Education Delivery Plan also pledged to increase autonomy for schools, review governance and funding and simplify Curriculum for Excellence.

And other official documents seen exclusively by TESS, acknowledge the difficulty of testing four- and five-year-olds.

The government’s specification for the new tests, which sets out in detail what the new national assessments will look like, says those in charge of delivery must produce “clear guidance” for schools on administering the tests at P1.

They also reveal that the national system would have to be capable of delivering a quarter of a million assessments every year to students in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

This is an edited article from the 1 July edition of TESS. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week’s TESS magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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