Scottish government to be warned about consequences of national testing

Scottish education risks falling into a trap that blighted Australian schooling, by introducing national testing to drive up standards only to find that this has a plethora of unintended and damaging consequences, a new report is set to warn tomorrow morning.

Placing Our Trust in the Teaching Profession: the case against national standardised testing also finds that international studies used by the Scottish government in support of controversial national testing plans actually bolster the argument against.

The report will be published tomorrow by newly formed left-wing alliance Rise (Respect, Independence, Socialism, Environmentalism).

It cites several studies in support of its fears that national standardised assessment will reinforce an attainment gap in Scotland that leaves poor five-year-olds 13 months behind their more affluent peers in reading.

The Scottish proposals are “strikingly similar” to Australia’s National Assessment Plan – Literacy and Numeracy, which has been in place since 2008, the report says. It highlights work by Greg Thomson of Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia, which finds unintended consequences including teaching to the test, a narrowing curriculum, increased student and teacher anxiety, and less inclusive classrooms.

Rise finds that one report in particular by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), referenced by the Scottish government to support its plans, does not advocate national standardised testing and instead highlights potential dangers.

The Rise report insists that the proposals are “incompatible” with Curriculum for Excellence and states: “Unfortunately, there is little doubt that the government’s plans will, in fact, encourage precisely the sort of ‘teaching to the test and narrowing of the curriculum’ that the OECD warns of.”

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