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Information for parents and carers

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

These assessments provide teachers, for the first time, objective and nationally consistent information on children’s progress in aspects of literacy and numeracy, alongside a wide range of other assessment activity. Teachers can then discuss children’s progress with them and their parents, taking into account the full range of assessment activity, including SNSA, to plan next steps and ensuring parents understand how best to support their child’s learning at home.

For children and young people to have the best chance of reaching their potential, parents, carers, teachers and the children themselves need to understand how they are progressing and what further support they require.

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    What you need to know as a parent or carer

    What‘s new?

    In August 2017 Scottish Government introduced the SNSA, a single, nationally developed set of standardised assessments for aspects of literacy and numeracy, designed to align with the way we deliver education in Scotland through Curriculum for Excellence.

    These assessments are expected to replace the variety of existing standardised assessments that local authorities and schools use at the moment.

    In addition to SNSA, ongoing and informal assessment continues to be a central part of everyday assessment in schools.

    What is being assessed?

    The SNSA assess aspects of reading, writing and numeracy, providing teachers with diagnostic information on children's progress in these areas.

    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 do the assessments take place?

    The assessments are administered to each child once within the relevant school year at a time chosen by the class teachers with guidance from their schools and local authorities. They decide the most appropriate time during the school year for your child to take the standardised assessments.

    What form do the assessments take?

    Children complete the assessments online and they are marked automatically, giving teachers immediate feedback to help children progress in literacy and numeracy.

    How many assessments do children and young people take in a school session?

    - 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.

    What does this mean for your child?

    Children 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 assessments are adaptive, which means that if a child is experiencing difficulty, the questions will get easier, and if a child is doing well, the questions will become more challenging. In this way, the assessments establish children’s capacity without them having to face lots of questions that are too easy or too hard for them to answer. 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 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 results being used?

    Scottish National Standardised Assessments data provides additional information to the teacher regarding how your child is progressing in school.

    How will the new system benefit your child?

    How does the SNSA benefit your child?

    The online assessment system produces diagnostic information about where your child did well and where further support is required.

    Your child’s teacher uses this feedback 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 their potential.

    What does your child need to do?

    The assessments are just 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 do not distract from daily learning.

    What does this mean for you?

    Do you get to see the results?

    As part of the normal reporting process in your school teachers use this information, alongside a wide range of other assessment information, to discuss with you how your child is progressing with their learning.

    How is the information gathered used?

    Teachers discuss feedback from assessments with individual children 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. 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.

    If you have more general comments or questions about the way in which children’s progress is being assessed as part of the National Improvement Framework, please email

    Can I withdraw my child from the SNSA?

    The SNSA are part of everyday learning and teaching. The assessments provide teachers with diagnostic information to help them plan next steps in children’s learning. Similar to other methods of assessment in schools, there is no legal basis for a parent to withdraw their child from the SNSA. If you have specific queries or questions about your child undertaking the assessments then you should discuss this matter with your child’s school who will take the decision on whether to grant the request as they would for any other aspect of learning and teaching.

    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.