Scottish teachers state opposition to standardised pupil testing

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Large-scale testing of pupils is a barrier to equality and detrimental to youngsters’ well-being, Scotland’s biggest teaching union has said following the first-year anniversary of the assessments.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) is reiterating its concerns over controversial Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA), which have seen pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3 tested in literacy and numeracy.

Scotland's biggest teaching union raised concerns. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Scotland's biggest teaching union raised concerns. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Last year opposition parties and a number of teachers and parents expressed concerns about the stress the tests, introduced in 2017, were causing pupils.

EIS concerns were submitted in evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s education and skills committee inquiry into the first year of SNSAs .

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said assessments had largely breached agreed guidelines.

“The EIS has been baffled by the intensity with which the Scottish Government appear welded to the principle of National Standardised Assessment,” he said. “Since 2015, no-one in Scotland has come forward with substantial evidence of the virtue of such a model, nor has any academic journal or conclusive system research been cited as the rationale for SNSAs as a tool for realising greater educational equity.

“On the contrary, there is strong evidence to suggest large-scale standardised testing is an inhibitor of equity and of student wellbeing, which is inextricably linked to young people’s ability to make good progress in learning.

“The EIS is of the firm view that all assessment should genuinely support learning.

“Unfortunately, our initial evaluation in the first year of SNSA implementation is a negative one. The future of SNSAs should be decided on educational research evidence and not on party politicking.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish National Standardised Assessments were specifically designed for the Scottish curriculum and provide teachers with standard, consistent and comparable information related to everyday learning.

“We have made clear that assessment has long been an important part of the improvement agenda and teachers with experience of using the assessments have spoken of how useful they are as one of a range of ways to gauge a pupil’s progression.

“Our user review of the first year of operation sets out enhancements and improvements for this year, which will provide a better experience for younger pupils and extra reassurance to teachers and parents.

“An independent, evidence-led review into the future of P1 assessments has also been announced by the Deputy First Minister.”