Skip to content

Information for local authorities

The Scottish Government developed the Scottish National Standardised Assessments as part of the National Improvement Framework.

The single, nationally consistent set of standardised assessments has been designed to align with the way we deliver education in Scotland through Curriculum for Excellence, and should replace the variety of existing standardised assessments that local authorities and schools currently use.

Jump to ...

    What you need to know as a local authority

    What is being assessed?

    The SNSA focus on aspects of reading, writing and numeracy and are aligned to the curriculum benchmarks for literacy and numeracy.

    Who is being assessed?

    All children in P1, P4, P7 and S3 are assessed once a year in aspects of reading, writing and numeracy.

    When will the assessments take place?

    Individual teachers and schools, with guidance from their local authorities, decide the most appropriate time during the school year for children to take the standardised assessments.

    What form do the assessments take?

    Assessments are completed online and automatically marked by the online system, giving teachers immediate feedback to help children progress.

    How will this impact children?

    The assessments are delivered as part of routine learning and teaching. Children are not expected to revise or prepare for assessments. The assessments are as inclusive as possible and accommodate the needs of children and young people who require additional support. Considered classroom management will ensure a positive experience for children.

    How are the results be used?

    SNSA data contributes to a complete, consistent and balanced picture of how children are progressing in school. Teachers, schools, and local authorities use this information to make further improvements at an individual, classroom, school and local authority level, which in turn helps every child to succeed.

    What is the rationale for the SNSA?

    Why introduce a national assessment system?

    Consistent, objective and comparable information is required at school, local authority and national level to show us which learning and teaching approaches are working best and where changes need to be made. That way we can learn from the best and ensure time and efforts are focused on the approaches that have the greatest impact on learning.

    Scottish Government has introduced a single, nationally consistent set of standardised assessments, designed to align with the way we deliver education in Scotland through Curriculum for Excellence. These assessments are replacing the variety of existing standardised assessments that local authorities and schools currently use.

    How do the assessments benefit children and teachers?

    The SNSA provide diagnostic information on how all children in Scotland are progressing with aspects of literacy and numeracy. Taken together with all other ongoing assessment information, the national standardised assessment data provides a more complete, consistent and balanced picture of how children are getting on.

    Alongside a range of other evidence, the SNSA informs teachers’ professional judgements of Curriculum for Excellence levels. The assessments should not be used in isolation and should not be viewed as a replacement for the ongoing assessment of children’s progress which is central to Curriculum for Excellence.

    Scottish Government is clear that the purpose of all assessment, including national standardised assessments, is to help teachers understand how children are progressing, and to help teachers tailor aspects of future learning accordingly. Assessment data should be used to improve educational outcomes for every child and young person.

    Are the assessments inclusive and accessible?

    Are the assessments appropriate for children with ASN?

    The SNSA are designed to be as inclusive as possible to accommodate the needs of children and young people who require additional support. Whatever support a child receives in the classroom should be available for the assessments.

    An Accessibility Advisory Group is in place for the SNSA and provides valuable assistance in ensuring the system is accessible to most children. Their recommendations are being incorporated into the SNSA provision on an ongoing basis. Further improvements to the assessment system, ASN training and accessibility guidance are planned.

    Practitioners who work with children and young people with complex additional support needs should use their knowledge and understanding of the individual child and their needs, strengths and challenges to reach a decision, with parents, on whether or not the use of standardised assessment is appropriate.

    What should you do now?

    Supporting schools

    Local authorities will decide how they support their schools with the SNSA. Local authority representatives with responsibility for assessment are working closely with headteachers and teachers to advise them on planning for the assessments. Advice and support on classroom management and on the use of assessment data is particularly important.

    Using the data

    All the data generated by the SNSA is owned by local authorities and provides them with the opportunity to analyse children's and young people’s progression in a variety of ways.

    Reporting and analysis of the data is key, and local authorities should give consideration to how they wish to produce reports that are useful and informative. Local authority level reports have been made live in the SNSA system and additional data has been issued separately. This provides local authorities with a wide range of SNSA data to use for analysis.

    Curriculum for Excellence levels

    Each local authority has its own assessment and moderation policy which should include strategies for considering SNSA data and how the results can be used diagnostically to inform learning and teaching. Consideration should also be made on how the SNSA support teachers' professional judgement on children’s achievement of Curriculum for Excellence levels.


    With SCHOLAR, all local authorities have negotiated training packages, incorporating both phases of training, appropriate to their own needs and at a time in the school session best suited to them.

    To support the conduct of the norming and equating studies, schools have received guidance notes and a bespoke training package for teachers.

    Technical readiness

    The SNSA are entirely web-based and available on any technical platform. They do not require any bespoke IT upgrades or installations. However, local authorities need to ensure technical readiness in schools so that the assessments can be successfully implemented.

    The SNSA Service Desk can provide help and support on all aspects of the SNSA including advice on technical readiness.

    You can email the Service Desk at contact details for the Service Desk are available when you log into the SNSA system itself.