Standardised assessments: Committee to test the evidence


What role should standardised assessments play in Scotland’s schools? A new inquiry by Holyrood’s Education and Skills Committee will explore why the Scottish Government decided to adopt its version of standardised assessments, whether assessments can improve the education outcomes for Scotland’s young people and what the alternatives are.

The inquiry will include international comparisons to look at the approach taken in other countries as well as exploring how these approaches could be used in Scotland.

The Committee wants to evaluate the role standardised assessments should play, based on the evidence. In particular, the Committee is asking:

What was the evidence base for moving away from the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) and introducing standardised assessments at P1, P4, P7 and S3?

What can be learned from alternative approaches?

What information can the Scottish Government’s version of standardised assessments provide?

How will this information contribute to improving the educational outcomes of children and young people?

Committee Convener, Clare Adamson MSP said:

“This inquiry is not looking to duplicate work the Scottish Government has announced, which will focus only on P1 assessments.

“Instead, this inquiry will be an open and transparent look at the evidence base for using standardised assessments across primary and secondary schools. We want to find out what role these play in Scotland’s schools. And, more importantly, how these will help to improve the educational outcomes for young people across the country.”

As well as looking at international approaches, the Committee will look at the evidence base for moving away from the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN), which was replaced in 2017.


The Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy (SSLN) was an annual sample survey which monitored national performance in literacy and numeracy in alternate years, for school pupils at P4, P7 and S3. Findings from the survey also informed resources for practitioners to facilitate improvements in learning, teaching and assessment at classroom level.

The last SSLN took place in May 2016 and results were published on 9th May 2017.

The Committee’s call for evidence can be found here.



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