What are the National Standardised Assessments for Scotland (NSA)?
The National Standardised Assessments for Scotland (NSA) is the collective name for the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) and their Gaelic counterpart, Measaidhean Coitcheann Nàiseanta airson Foghlam tron Ghàidhlig (MCNG). For phase two of the assessments’ delivery, the SNSA and MCNG will be housed, for the first time on the same platform.
Children and young people in P1, P4, P7 and S3 complete online standardised assessments in literacy and numeracy as part of everyday learning and teaching. The assessments help to identify children’s progress, providing diagnostic information to support teachers' professional judgement.
Children and young people do not have to revise or prepare for these assessments and there is no pass or fail. The assessments are as inclusive as possible to accommodate the needs of children and young people who require additional support with their learning.
Why were these assessments introduced in Scottish schools?
The SNSA and the MCNG were introduced as part of the National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education to provide teachers with objective, comparable information about progress, which will help improve outcomes for all children and young people.
Assessment is a central part of everyday learning and teaching for every child and young person and these assessments have been specifically designed to reflect the way we deliver education in Scotland. They are aligned with Curriculum for Excellence and, for the MCNG, the principles of Gaelic Medium Education. Ongoing and periodic assessments are, and will continue to be, the main basis upon which teachers make their professional judgements about learners’ progress. Teachers continue to draw on all of the assessment information available to them when considering children and young people’s progress and planning next steps in learning.
What has changed since these assessments were first introduced?
For phase two, a single contract has been let for the development and delivery of the SNSA and the MCNG, so that both assessment sets can be accessed through a shared online system. The move to a combined assessment platform facilitates a shared approach to the assessment design, standardisation principles, and reporting functionality for the two assessments sets.
While there may be some cosmetic changes to the system, the same core services will be provided, including:
- A public website, providing sign in access to the password protected assessment platform itself.
- Wholly distinct assessment sets for the MCNG and the SNSA.
- All assessment content quality assured by Education Scotland – with MCNG content created bespoke for the assessments by GME practitioners – recruited directly by the Scottish Government, for phase two.
- Inclusive, accessible, adaptive assessments for learners in P1, P4, P7 and S3.
- A familiarisation section for learners to become accustomed to the different question types, and approaches to answering them, ahead of trying the actual assessments. Phase two introduces our new P1 familiarisation mascot, Feathers/Itean, who we hope younger learners will enjoy.
- The generation of Individual, Group Diagnostic and Group Aggregate reports to support teachers in planning next steps in children and young people’s learning and to help inform their professional judgment on learner progress – with additional school level longitudinal reports following thereafter.
- Local authority reports providing information on assessment presentations; learner survey data; local authority level aggregate assessment outcomes; and authorities’ raw data sets.
- An intuitive design, supported with training materials – in the form of a written Quick Start Guide and Accessibility Guidance in the first instance (accessible via the Help pages in the Platform). Additional training materials and opportunities – agreed in liaison with local authorities and including the use of assessment data – will come on stream over the first half of the school year.
- A service desk for any user inquiries or difficulties – inviting any queries in the medium of Gàidhlig by email in the first instance, and a direct telephone service in the English medium.
An overview of assessments
The National Standardised Assessments for Scotland provide teachers with indicative, diagnostic information on the progress of learners from P1, P4, P7 and S3 in aspects of reading, writing and numeracy. The assessments are marked automatically, giving teachers immediate feedback to help children and young people progress through their learning.
Once assessments have been completed, a diagnostic report is generated for individuals and groups of learners. When considered alongside a wide range of assessment evidence, the information provided by the assessments is used by teachers to plan next steps in learning and to help inform their professional judgements about learners’ progress. The reports provide indicative information, based on learners’ assessment responses, identifying strengths and areas that require further support.
Do you need more information?
Please visit the Question and answers section or scroll down for some further reading.
Explore further reading resources that provide the wider context for the Scottish National Standardised Assessments as well as advice on self-evaluation and improvement.
For more information on Gaelic Medium Education including immersion learning see Advice on Gaelic Education | Self-evaluation | National Improvement Hub
If your questions are not answered there, feel free to contact the service desk who will be happy to help.