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National Improvement Framework

The National Improvement Framework aims to provide better information about how well children and young people are doing in education.

That information will help your child's teacher, as well as councils and the Scottish Government, understand which learning and teaching approaches are working well, and where further improvements need to be made.

Assessing children's progress

To make sure everyone understands how well a child is doing, from the beginning of their education through to leaving school, it is important to look at a range of different information, such as:

  • their development in the early years
  • reading, writing, talking and listening skills (literacy)
  • the ability to work with numbers (numeracy)
  • their health and wellbeing
  • national qualifications and awards
  • what they do when they leave school.

Assessment already forms part of everyday learning, including through class work as well as through more formal assessments such as tests. It is important that teachers know how well pupils are progressing, in order to ensure they are developing and moving forward in their learning.

Teacher professional judgement on the achievement of a level

One of the aims of the National Improvement Framework is to provide better information about how well children and young people are doing in education.

That information will help your child's teacher, as well as councils and the Scottish Government, understand which learning, teaching and assessment approaches are working well, and where improvements need to be made. This will help to raise attainment, close the attainment gap and support school improvement.

It is also important that teachers know how well individual pupils are progressing to ensure they are moving forward in their learning and receiving the right support.

As part of the National Improvement Framework, the Scottish Government is gathering annual information about children and young people’s achievement in literacy and numeracy during their Broad General Education (BGE). (The BGE covers children’s time in education from age three until the end of third year at secondary school [S3].)

The information being gathered is based on teacher professional judgements and was provided to the Scottish Government by local authorities. The data shows the percentage of children within key stages (P1, P4, P7 and S3) who have achieved the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) level expected for most children at their stage in reading, writing, listening and talking, and numeracy.

Teacher professional judgement of achievement a CfE level is based on all of the evidence collected by teachers during the on-going assessment of children and young people’s learning. Assessment is part of everyday learning. It can take place through class work, as well as through more formal assessments, such as tests. This includes observing learners at work, assessing children’s knowledge and understanding by talking to them about their learning, and assessing the work they produce in class.

The data published by the Scottish Government on the Achievement of CfE levels at national, local and school level is the first set of achievement data for the BGE to be published in this way. As with many new collections of data, this data will require further development, before its accuracy and quality can be guaranteed.

In the past the media have compared data for individual schools and presented this as league tables. This implies that the schools which are the top of the table are the best in Scotland and those at the bottom, the worst. This is very misleading for parents because schools operate in very different circumstances and cannot therefore be compared in this way. The context of a school must be taken into account to understand how well a school is doing.

Does the data include information on every child in Scotland?

The data relates to children in P1, P4, P7 and S3 from every publicly funded school in Scotland. A very small proportion of children have long term significant and complex additional support needs that mean that it is unlikely that they will progress through the CfE levels during their time in education. These children are recorded as 'child following individual milestones' and are included in the data publication.

In some cases, children and young people in Scottish education learn through the medium of Gaelic. This is known as Gaelic Medium Education (GME). The collection of data on Curriculum for Excellence levels reflects how children and young people learn in GME. The initial data collection focussed on achievement in literacy and Gàidhlig in P1, P4 and P7 only. The achievement of a level in literacy and English of children and young people in GME is collected at P7 and S3 only. This will be collected along with the levels of those in English medium education.This approach takes account of when children in GME begin to formally study literacy and English as part of the curriculum.

The assessment of numeracy of children and young people in GME is through the medium of Gaelic and is reported at the end of P4, P7 and S3. Teachers use their judgement as to whether they can assess achievement of a level by the end of P1. This gives teachers the flexibility to take account of whether children have started to learn Gaelic as part of GME in nursery or P1.

Where children have not been assessed at a particular level in GME they are not included in the data publication.

Can my child be identified from this information?

No, the Scottish Government presentation of the achievement of a level data has been very carefully considered to ensure that individual children cannot be identified. For some very small schools this means that data cannot be made public at all. However, in order to publish information for as many primary schools as possible information is reported for the school as a whole, and not for individual stages.

To preserve the confidentiality of individuals, asterisks (*) have been inserted in the tables instead of figures for some schools and categories. This is where percentages are based on data for more than 0 but fewer than 21 pupils. Percentages of children achieving a level have also been presented in bands (0% to less than 10%, 10% to less than 20%, etc) rather than providing the exact percentage for each school.

You can find links to the national, and local authority and school level data on the achievement of CfE levels on the Scottish Government website.

If you have questions you may find it helpful to talk to your child’s school.

Standardised assessment

Children across Scotland are already sitting a range of different standardised assessments, which have been bought in by schools and local authorities from a variety of providers.

From August 2017, new, national standardised assessments will be introduced in all schools in Scotland. These assessments, along with children's ongoing classroom activity, will help teachers see how pupils are doing.

This new, nationally consistent standardised assessment approach will replace the various standardised assessments currently being used by teachers to understand what more needs to be done to support children in learning. It will not replace teachers' need to consider a wide range of assessment information from ongoing classroom activity when making judgements about children's progress.

Your child's teacher will decide when the time is right to use the national standardised assessments to monitor progress in aspects of reading, writing and numeracy.

Your child's teacher will use national standardised assessment results, alongside a wide range of other assessment information, to identify your child's strengths and where they may need more support. They can then use this assessment information to work with your child to plan their next steps in learning. Teachers will also discuss your child's progress with you and help you to understand how you can support further your child's learning at home.

Teachers' professional judgements, including information from national standardised assessments, of how children in their classes are getting on will provide better information about how children and young people across Scotland are progressing with their learning. In turn, that will help us to better understand the attainment gap that exists between children from the least and most deprived communities in Scotland, allowing us to work together to close that gap to ensure equity for all children and young people.

Further information

A new leaflet, 'Assessing Children’s Progress: A Guide for Parents and Carers', has been developed to provide further information on assessment for parents.

PDF file: Assessing Children’s Progress: A Guide for Parents and Carers (2.5 MB)

A storyboard [PDF file] has also been created to help children and young people understand the National Improvement Framework.

The National Parent Forum of Scotland has also produced some information about the National Improvement Framework.

PDF file: National Improvement Framework: Sharing information for better learning (345 KB)

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