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Information for teachers

The Scottish Government commissioned SNSA as part of the National Improvement Framework. The SNSA was designed and developed specifically for the Scottish curriculum and all questions are reviewed and approved by panels of Education Scotland and Scottish Government staff. Each question is mapped to an organiser and sub-category in the Curriculum for Excellence Literacy or Numeracy benchmarks, at a relevant stage for the year group.

The SNSA complement the assessment information gathered from everyday learning situations, and through observation and interaction with children and young people. The SNSA will:

  • provide diagnostic reports detailing areas where children and young people have shown particular success or where they require further development
  • help you to make decisions about the next steps in learning, both for individual children and in terms of the particular approaches used in the classroom
  • provide you with additional information to consider when making a professional judgement on a child’s progress in achieving the relevant Curriculum for Excellence level.

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    What you need to know as a teacher

    What is being assessed?

    Scottish National Standardised Assessments focus on aspects of reading, writing and numeracy. 

    Who is being assessed?

    Children and young people in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

    When are the Scottish National Standardised Assessments going to be available?

    The assessments are available from August and close at the end of the academic year.

    When will children take assessments?

    In consultation with the school and local authority, teachers will decide when within the school session is most appropriate time. The assessments can be carried out:

    • during the school year providing diagnostic information on how individual children are progressing in aspects of literacy and numeracy, and helping planning for next steps in learning.
    • at the end of the school year to help inform teachers' judgements of whether individual children have achieved the Curriculum for Excellence level relevant to their stage. The results of each child’s assessment should be shared with their teacher for the following year so that future learning can be planned.

    How will children be assessed?

    Children will be assessed using the SNSA online system. Assessments are automatically marked online and teachers can generate reports. The assessments provide an objective and comparable measure of children's progress in aspects of reading, writing 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.

    How long do the assessments take?

    The assessments are designed to be 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.

    P1: In most cases it will take P1 learners less than 30 minutes to complete an assessment.  

    P4/P7/S3: On average, allow up to 40 minutes to complete the assessment. Some learners will need more time, but many will finish in less than 30 minutes. Remember that learners can return to complete an assessment after a break.

    Classroom management and IT provision should be carefully considered before administering the assessments as this can affect time taken.


    What do the assessments comprise?

    Children are presented with a range of questions, often with illustrations or images. As the system is adaptive, the questions change depending on how well a child is doing. This means that each child follows their own pathway through the assessments and avoids them having to face lots of questions that are too easy, or too difficult. If a child is struggling, the questions will get easier, and if a child is doing well, the questions will become more challenging.

    What does this mean for you?

    You should approach the assessments as part of normal teaching and learning activities for children and young people. No special preparation is required. However, you will need to think about how you manage administering the assessments within your classroom. Tips and illustrations on classroom management are available within the assessment platform. It is important that you ensure children and young people understand the standardised assessments are just one part of a broader approach to assessment within Scottish schools.

    How will this affect how you teach?

    The assessments should not require a change to the way you teach and there should be no additional workload for you or for the children. However, you will need to think about how best to manage the assessments in your particular context and plan accordingly. The assessments are as inclusive as possible to accommodate the needs of children and young people who require additional support. The diagnostic reports from the assessments should provide insight into how you might plan your future teaching to meet children’s needs.

    What does this mean for your children and young people?

    Children and young people should not revise or do extra work for these assessments and evidence shows us that many children enjoy doing them. The assessments have been designed in line with Curriculum for Excellence so daily classroom learning is all the preparation a child or young person will need.

    SNSA data will contribute to a complete and balanced picture of how children are progressing, giving you diagnostic information to help support every child's learning. The assessments should not be used in isolation and should not be viewed as a replacement for the ongoing assessment of children's progress that is central to Curriculum for Excellence.

    As always, your professional judgement is key in measuring a child’s progress.

    Can you access the assessments through Glow?

    Users with a Glow login can access the assessments directly when logged into Glow. For further information, see the SNSA login page.

    Training information

    Flexible training

    A flexible training and professional development programme is available for the Scottish National Standardised Assessments. Teachers who are responsible for assessing P1, P4, P7 or S3, headteachers, local authority and Education Scotland staff will be offered tailored training and professional development through a mixture of online resources, webinars and face-to-face events as agreed with their local authority.

    Training sessions

    Training and professional development for the Scottish National Standardised Assessments (SNSA) programme are available in a variety of formats including face-to-face presentations, webinars and online resources.

    There are currently three training and professional development courses available during 2018/19. Of the three courses, the two core modules are:

    Course 1 "An Introduction to SNSA" is a training course that encompasses accessing, assigning and conducting assessments and guidance on the generation of the SNSA reports. The sessions will typically take no longer than one hour including time for questions.

    Course 2 "An Introduction to Analysing SNSA Data" is a professional development course that focusses on the interpretation of data and the pedagogical aspects of using the assessments in the context of teachers’ professional judgement. The sessions will typically last two hours, in an interactive format, during which delegates will be able to discuss various school, class and individual scenarios.

    The additional course is:

    Course 3 "An Update on SNSA Data Analysis – Using the Long Scale" is a recorded webinar, available under the "Training" section of the "Help" menu within the SNSA platform. This short video comprises information related to: question design; adaptive assessment design; key features of the long scale; band ranges and descriptions within the long scale and using the long scale when interpreting reports.

    Looking for the assessment system?

    Log in to the Scottish National Standardised Assessment system for a quick start guide, the staff menu, help content and contact details for the SNSA Service Desk. 

    SNSA login

    Online training

    All online resources, which can be accessed at any time, are available from within the SNSA assessment platform. These resources can be used to refresh knowledge after attending an event or to provide guidance for teachers unable to attend an event. Other training materials, such as FAQs and 'Quick Start' guides, are available within the SNSA assessment platform. Further guidance relevant to local authorities and Education Scotland is also available. Support Officers from SCHOLAR provide training and professional development and assistance with the SNSA programme. A technical Service Desk is also available; the contact details are provided on the SNSA platform or email

    Quick Start eModule

    SCHOLAR has created a series of short videos that act as a “Quick Start” guide for teachers. These videos aim to familiarise teachers with the assessments by demonstrating how to access and assign them to children and young people. The clips present a step-by-step approach to allow teachers to use the materials in a way which suits their purposes. In addition to accessing and assigning assessments, there is guidance on how to access student login details, set up specific groups (or tags) and view practice assessments.

    The Quick Start training is available on the Help section within the SNSA assessment platform.

    Service Desk

    A service desk is available to all users of the Scottish National Standardised Assessments within the assessment system. The Service Desk is staffed from 0800-1800 Monday to Friday. Service Desk Operators will be able to answer your questions regarding the Scottish National Standardised Assessments.

    Contact details for the Service Desk are available within the assessment system. You can also email at