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What are the assessments like?

The assessments are designed to be user friendly and attractive and are accessible using a wide variety of online accessibility tools.

The assessments are adaptive and establish children’s capacity without them having to face lots of questions that are too easy or too difficult. Assessment questions change based on how well a child is doing. If a child is struggling, the questions will get easier and if a child is doing well, the questions will become more challenging.

 

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    Assessment information

    Each assessment comprises 30-41 questions depending on the year group and subject area. There is no time limit but each assessment usually takes no longer than 40 minutes with evidence from the first year showing the average to be less than 30 minutes. Children and young people should be encouraged to take time over each question before moving on. Children or young people can save and close an active but incomplete assessment by logging off. When they resume the assessment, they will be taken to the last question presented.

    Practice assessments in reading (or literacy), writing skills and numeracy provide learners with an indication of the look and feel of the live assessment content, but are not representative of the difficulty level of the live question material. Teachers can demonstrate these practice assessments to groups of learners as well as allowing children and young people to work through the practice assessment at their own pace using the devices available in the school. Note that in the case of Primary 1 assessments, the children will need headphones.

    Below is some more information about the practice assessments and a glimpse of what they look like.

    Primary 1 examples

    The Primary 1 Numeracy and Literacy assessments each has an accompanying practice assessment which allows children to become familiar with the format of the specific assessment they are about to take. The children can practise selecting and dragging, highlighting and other key-strokes or mouse movements they will need to use during the assessment. It is important that young children become familiar with the IT device that they will be using for the live assessment.

    Primary 1 children should be guided by their teachers when doing the practice assessments. Children can do the practice assessment as many times as they wish until they are comfortable with the format and feel ready to navigate one of the live SNSA assessments.

    Once the child has entered the practice assessment, he or she is introduced to a cartoon character, Alison, who explains how the interface works. Be aware the children may need to scroll down the pages to find the appropriate button (NEXT) or to move through the content of an assessment question.

    Alison introduces herself.

     

    The "mouth" button in the top left-hand corner of the screen can be clicked to hear the text on the screen. When they click the mouth button, children will hear Alison explaining the features that they need to be familiar with to take the assessment: tapping or clicking and dragging. The audio on each page can be repeated, paused and resumed as often as necessary.

    Alison explains the mouth button.

     

    The green ‘Next’ arrow in the bottom right-hand corner takes you to the next screen.

    Alison explains the next button.

     

    Once this functionality has been explained, the question types are demonstrated and the children have the opportunity to practise them. A few examples of these practice screens are included below.

    Children have the opportunity to practise choosing questions.

    Instructions for answering a question by tapping or clicking on an object

     

    The object will change colour once it has been selected.

    The same question but the object has changed colour.

     

    Once the skill has been practised a few times, children are presented with a slightly more challenging question, without the explanation, so they can practice their new skill in context.

    A question that asks you to choose a dog.

     

    Children have the opportunity to practise questions with dragging.

    Instructions for answering a question that asks you to drag an object to a dotted space.

     

    The instructions explain how the objects can be dragged back to their original position.

    The same question showing the object being dragged.

     

    Once the skill has been practised a few times, children are presented with a slightly more challenging question, without the explanation, so they can practice their new skill in context.

    A question that asks you to drag a number to a dotted space.

     

    Children are given encouragement to complete the final step and finish their practice assessment:

    Alison shows the finish button.

    Primary 4, Primary 7 and Secondary 3 examples

    Primary 4, Primary 7 and Secondary 3 assessments each have one practice assessment that combines reading, writing and numeracy questions. There are 8 practice questions giving children and young people the opportunity to become familiar with the key-strokes or mouse movements they will need to use to choose among options and enter text if they are not using touch screen devices.

    The child or young person can access the practice assessment from the SNSA homepage and then select the green button ‘Start assessment’ when they are ready to begin.

    Introductory text for Secondary 3 practice assessment.

     

    The questions in the practice assessments are relatively easy and not indicative of the difficulty of the assessments. They are designed to give children and young people an idea of the look and feel of the live assessments and an opportunity to practise the question formats.

    All questions are multiple choice so an option must be selected:

    Example of a multiple-choice reading question.

     

    When the child or young person is happy with their answer they should select the ‘Next’ arrow at the bottom right-hand side of the screen. It is important to note that once the assessment item has been fully answered and the ‘Next’ has been selected, it is not possible to return to that question. If the ‘Next’ arrow is accidentally selected before completing the question, the child or young person will be prompted as to whether they wish to proceed without answering the question or not.

    The prompt shown when the next button is pressed by accident.

     

    For some reading questions, key parts of the text can be highlighted by the user:

    Example of a reading question where some text has been highlighted.

    What do the reports look like?

    Reports can be generated as soon as a learner has completed an assessment.

    Reports are available both for an individual child or young person, and for larger groups such as classes.

    You can download a pdf showing an extract from an Individual Report on a Primary 4 Reading assessment.

    This first page of the Individual Report includes an overview of the child or young person’s capacity as indicated in the assessment. The Assessment Summary near the top of the page outlines, in a few sentences, both overall capacity and capacity in some of the Organisers defined in the Curriculum for Excellence for this subject area that are addressed in the SNSA. The diagram headed Overall Capacity Demonstrated shows in graphic form the child or young person’s capacity in relation to the set of questions included in this year group’s assessment. The learner’s overall capacity is indicated by the large circle.

    The paragraph of text near the circle describe the skills, knowledge and understandings that learners typically demonstrate at this band. For example, a Primary 4 child performing in the middle of the capacity range for Primary 4 show capacity in the skills described in bands 4 to 7; children performing at the top of the capacity range for Primary 4 typically show capacity in the skills described in all regions on the report.

    The second page of the Individual Report includes more detailed information about the questions that the individual child or young person was administered in the SNSA. It provides descriptions of each question encountered by the learner, arranged in Organiser groups, which are aligned with the Curriculum for Excellence. On the second page in the example, the Organiser Tools for Reading is shown first. The learner saw 4 questions within this category. The columns to the right of the page show the difficulty of each question (described as a difficulty band) and then the learner’s result on the question: Correct, Incorrect or Not Attempted. This detailed information about questions is intended to help teachers identify the child or young person’s strengths, as well as areas that might require more focus.

    Because SNSA is an adaptive assessment, children in the same year group, doing an assessment in the same subject area, will have been administered different sets of questions, depending on how successful they are in answering the questions. Learners who are succeeding on many questions progress to more challenging questions; learners who are finding the questions difficult progress to easier questions.

    What about children and young people with ASN and EAL?

    The SNSA assessments are designed to be accessible to children or young people with ASN and EAL. Practitioners who work with children and young people with complex additional support needs should use their knowledge and understanding of the child and their needs, strengths and challenges to reach a decision with parents on whether or not the use of standardised assessment is appropriate.

    The SNSA offers flexible delivery of the assessments. There is no time limit and teachers are encouraged to administer the assessment in whichever way best supports the needs of the child or young person.

    A guiding principle is that any additional support that a child or young person receives in routine classroom learning should be available when completing the assessments. Some examples of support are:

    • allowing additional time to complete the assessment or allowing partial completion of the assessment and returning to the SNSA at the point of progress from the previous engagement;
    • the use of blocks or tactile aids or other concrete materials for a child or young person with a visual impairment;
    • having a teacher or supporter read out the content to them or sign to them in British Sign Language;
    • the use of assistive technologies.

    It is important that a child or young person is neither disadvantaged or given an unfair advantage.

    The SNSA has been designed to be compatible with a large variety of devices and input methods to ensure children or young people are able to use the technology with which they are familiar. Examples of these technologies include text to speech technology, a voice reader or a magnifier.

    Further guidance on ASN and EAL accessibility is available within the SNSA site. For more information, please contact your school or local authority.