Three in four Scottish teachers fear difficulties of implementing standardised tests


Campaigner warns of implications of third party involvement in plans to re-introduce controversial standardised testing

A NEW SURVEY of Scottish teachers has found that 75 per cent are concerned that the implementation of a new regime of standardised testing in Scotland’s schools will be “challenging”.

The survey of 252 teachers was carried out by the Edinburgh-based social enterprise Sumdog, which produces electronic learning tools for children, and found concern among teachers about SNP policy aiming to reduce the difference between the educational achievement of the poorest and wealthiest Scottish children.

Commenting on the teacher survey results, Sumdog CEO Andrew Hall said: “Teachers are currently gearing up for the introduction of new standardised online assessments in Scottish schools in the course of next year. Our survey suggests that the overwhelming majority believe preparing their pupils for these new online assessments will be challenging.

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“There are probably a wide variety of reasons for this. But feedback from individual teachers as part of the survey suggests many are worried that pupils lack experience in doing online assessments – and this could make their introduction more challenging than would otherwise be the case.”

The survey comes after the Scottish Government’s key expert who advocated standardised testing revealed that important elements of her advice had been ignored in the designing of the policy.

In June Scottish teachers affirmed at their EIS union conference that industrial action would remain an option in the event that the version of standardised testing, finally set to be implemented in 2017, did not prove acceptable for teachers.

Education writer and campaigner James McEnaney told CommonSpace that the results of the survey would come as no surprise to the teaching community, which is already stretched by austerity.

“The numbers from this survey certainly aren't surprising – there's no question that imposing an unwanted system of standardised testing upon a schools system struggling with budget cuts, reduced teacher numbers and the twin burdens of workload and bureaucracy will be, at an absolute minimum, a significant challenge,” he said.

However, McEnaney also warned against the intervention of third party groups, including the survey organisers, into the yet to be implemented education policy.

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“That said, it is deeply concerning – though not at all surprising – to see organisations recognising the business opportunities that are inherent to the SNP's standardised testing plans. Sumdog will not be alone in positioning themselves to sell materials to schools which, they will claim, can help to 'prepare pupils' for these tests. This is the start of precisely the sort of narrowly-focused, high-stakes testing system that we absolutely must avoid if we are to make any progress in tackling educational inequality in Scotland,” he warned.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called on the public to judge her by her administration’s capacity to reform the education system, with standardised testing and the closing of the so-called attainment gap representing the flagship changes.

Picture courtesy of MIKI Yoshihito

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