Shirley-Anne Somerville said the change may take “some time” as the new body could require legislation to go through the Scottish Parliament.
On Monday, the Scottish Government announced that it would be replacing Scotland’s exams body with a new organisation, following a report from the OECD [the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development].
Education Scotland will also lose its school inspection role in the shake-up.
The OECD said there needs to be “more coherence and alignment” with the principles of the Curriculum for Excellence in the senior phase of secondary school.
Asked on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme about the pace of the change, Ms Somerville said: “I want to ask stakeholders, particularly teachers and young people, whether they agree with the OECD recommendation and then how we can take that forward.
“So that will take time, and it will perhaps need to go to Parliament for some legislation.
“So this isn’t going to be an overnight change and that’s why it’s exceptionally important to stress that the SQA will continue to do their job, continue to deliver sound qualifications, just as they have done for many a year, and we will continue to do that until we have a new body in place.”
Taking the legislation through Holyrood will “take some time”, she added.
The education secretary is due to give a statement in the Scottish Parliament on the OECD report later on Tuesday.