Parents and Carers
Information for parents and carers
The Scottish Government introduced the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) and their Gaelic equivalent, Measaidhean Coitcheann Nàiseanta airson Foghlam tron Ghàidhlig (MCNG) as part of the National Improvement Framework. Collectively, these assessments are known as the National Standardised Asssessments for Scotland (NSA).
For children and young people to have the best chance of reaching their potential, parents, carers, teachers and the learners themselves, need to understand how they are progressing, and what further support they require. Alongside a wide range of other assessment activity, the assessments help to inform that understanding by providing teachers with objective and nationally consistent information on learner’s progress in aspects of numeracy and literacy. Teachers can then discuss a learner’s progress with them and their parents/carers, planning next steps accordingly, and ensuring parents/carers understand how best to support their child’s learning at home.
What you need to know as a parent or carer
Both the SNSA and the MCNG are now housed on the same website and are collectively known as the National Standardised Assessments in Scotland (NSA). While the content of the two different assessment sets will be entirely distinct, the SNSA and MCNG now have a shared approach to assessment design, standardisation, reporting, and key system functionality. This means that children and young people, and school staff, using both assessment sets will no longer need to become accustomed to two different online systems.
Ongoing and informal assessment is, and will continue to be, a central part of everyday assessment. Teachers will continue to draw on all of the assessment information available to them, when considering learners’ progress and planning the next steps in their learning.
What is being assessed?
The National Standardised Assessments for Scotland (NSA) cover aspects of reading, writing and numeracy, providing teachers with indicative, diagnostic information on learners' progress in these curricular areas.
Who is being assessed?
All children and young people in P1, P4, P7 and S3.
When do the assessments take place?
The assessments are administered to each learner once within the relevant school year. Individual teachers and schools, with guidance from their local authorities, will decide on the most appropriate time during the school year for your child to take the standardised assessments.
In Gaelic Medium Education, children and young people need to experience high quality, total immersion learning until they have achieved a secure foundation and level of fluency in Gaelic that will enable them to progress further. Acquiring skills in reading and writing English is then planned for within the curriculum.
As P1 children in Gaelic Medium Education will not have experienced formal learning of the literacy and English experiences and outcomes and children in P4 will be at an early stage of undertaking such learning, they will not be expected to take the English medium Scottish National Standardised Assessments.
GME learners in P7 and S3 will be required to take the English medium Scottish National Standardised Assessments in reading and writing, in addition to the Measaidhean Coitcheann Nàiseanta airson Foghlam tron Ghàidhlig in reading, writing and numeracy. This reflects the fact that children and young people in GME access the curriculum in a distinct way to those in English medium education. Progress in each medium of learning therefore requires to be assessed and understood separately.
What form do the assessments take?
Assessments are completed online and are marked automatically giving teachers immediate diagnostic feedback to help children and young people progress in literacy and numeracy.
How many assessments do children and young people take in a school session?
The number of assessments taken differs slightly between the SNSA and the MCNG.
- P1 children take two SNSA assessments: one in literacy and one in numeracy.
- P4 children take three SNSA assessments: one in reading, one in writing and one in numeracy.
- P7 children take three SNSA assessments: one in reading, one in writing and one in numeracy.
- S3 young people take three SNSA assessments: one in reading, one in writing and one in numeracy.
- P1 children take two Measaidhean Coitcheann Nàiseanta airson Foghlam tron Ghàidhlig (MCNG) assessments: one in literacy and one in numeracy.
- P4 children take three MCNG assessments: one in reading, one in writing and one in numeracy.
- P7 children take three MCNG assessments: one in reading, one in writing and one in numeracy and two English medium Scottish National Standardised Assessments: one in reading and one in writing.
- S3 young people take three MCNG assessments: one in reading, one in writing and one in numeracy* and two English medium Scottish National Standardised Assessments: one in reading and one in writing.
* We recognise the need for a flexible approach for those young people who, depending on their school’s curriculum by the end of S3, may be accessing numeracy and mathematics through the medium of English. In such circumstances, it is likely to be more appropriate to undertake the English Medium Scottish National Standardised Assessment for numeracy.
What does this mean for your child?
Children and yong people do not have to revise or prepare for assessments. The assessments are used as part of routine teaching and learning to help teachers understand how well your child is progressing and to plan next steps.
The system is designed so that if a learner is experiencing difficulty, the questions will get easier, and if a learner is doing well, the questions will become more challenging. In this way, the assessments establish a learner's ability without them having to face lots of questions that are too easy or too hard for them to answer. There is no standard which has to be achieved through the assessments. There is no pass or fail.
The assessments are as short as possible and are age and stage appropriate. There is no time limit. This is to ensure children and young people do not feel unnecessary time pressure when undertaking the assessments. The majority of P1 learners will complete each assessment in less than 30 minutes, while on average P4/P7/S3 learners complete within 40 minutes.
Your child will not be expected to take assessments covering reading, writing, and numeracy in one sitting.
How are the outcomes being used?
National Standardised Assessments for Scotland data provides additional information to the teacher regarding how your child is progressing in school.
How does the system benefit your child?
How do the standardised assessments benefit your child?
The online assessment system produces information about where your child did well and where further support is required. Your child’s teacher uses this feedback, alongside a range of wider assessment evidence, to help plan next steps and provide further support as appropriate. Providing the right support at the right time helps to ensure your child can reach his or her potential.
What does your child need to do?
The assessments should be seen by children and young people as another aspect of daily learning. Your child does not have to revise or prepare for assessments. There is no additional workload for your child and the assessments will not distract from daily learning.
What does this mean for you?
Do you get to see the outcomes?
Teachers will use this information, alongside a wide range of other assessment information, to discuss with you how your child is progressing with their learning, as part of the usual reporting process in your school.
How is the information gathered used?
Teachers discuss feedback from assessments with individual children and young people and then plan next steps in learning using all available assessment information.
The information is also used by schools to plan improvements in literacy and numeracy provision.
How can you help?
You have a key role to play in helping your child to progress in their learning. Teachers will keep you informed about how your child is progressing. Talk to your child’s teacher if you have any concerns about their learning or assessment. Ask for information on how you can support your child’s learning at home.
For further information about how to support your child’s learning, their education and school life, visit Parentzone Scotland's website.
Who can I talk to for more information?
Your child’s class teacher or headteacher should always be on hand to discuss any questions that you may have about your child’s progress and the role assessment plays in this. Your Parent Council may be able to point you towards further advice or support.
What should you do if you do not want your child to undertake the assessments?
The standardised assessments are part of every day learning and teaching. The assessments provide teachers with diagnostic information to help them plan next steps in children and young people’s learning. As with other methods of assessment in schools, there is no legal basis for a parent to withdraw their child from the standardised assessments.
If you have specific queries or questions about your child undertaking the assessments you should discuss those issues with your child’s school. If your concerns remain and you wish to opt your child out of the assessments, it is for the school to decide whether to grant your request, as they would for any other aspect of learning and teaching.
If you have more general comments or questions about the way in which children and young people’s progress is being assessed as part of the National Improvement Framework, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Where can I find out more?
Further information about the National Improvement Framework can be found at the Scottish Government’s website, where you can also find Assessing Children’s Progress: A guide for parents and carers.
Further information about support for the growth of Gaelic education can be found in The National Gaelic Language Plan 2018–2023.
Further information about Gaelic Medium Education can be found on Gaelic Medium Education: Support your child’s learning – simple tips in Gaelic and English | Learning at home | Parent Zone.