Is @JohnSwinney being deliberately dishonest about standardised testing plans?
Once again, the SNP Education Secretary (and Deputy First Minister) John Swinney has claimed that his party’s plans to impose standardised testing upon Scottish schools are a necessary means of generating vital, national data. Without them, he claims, we just won’t know where to target extra resources in our quest to eliminate the so-called ‘attainment gap’.
Of course, the idea that educational inequality can be eliminated while we live in such an unequal society is nonsense, and the government know this, but — as ever — it’s easier to govern by headlines than it is to actually tackle poverty.
So we continue to hear about the need for ‘better data’, and Mr Swinney continues to assert that only standardised testing can provide this. In doing so he is either being deliberately dishonest or demonstrating that he’s not up to the job he’s been given. I can’t decide which option I prefer, since both spell disaster for Scottish children.
As I have already explained on Bella Caledonia, and as The Herald reported way back in January, the results of these standardised tests will not be collected, collated or published, and will therefore generate no new data to support government efforts to improve education.
Let’s just make that clear for everyone, including the Education Secretary: NO NEW DATA.
According to current plans the only people who will see these test scores are teachers (and probably parents), who — because this government does not trust them — will then be expected to use this data when they come to a judgement about a pupil’s performance. It is this judgement, expressed as a measure of relative proficiency in an expected curricular stage, that will for the basis of new SNP school league tables, which are an inescapable consequence of their plan to publish information on a “school by school” basis.
Neither Local Authorities nor central government will have access to anything other than random, anonymous samples of test scores.
So, once again: no new national data will be derived from standardised tests.
The idea that these assessments will — as Swinney claimed at the EIS AGM on Saturday— provide the data we need to “judge where to target interventions” is categorically untrue.
When he claims that these tests “are about equipping us with the data to enable us to ensure that people are given the best chance in life to prosper” he is demonstrably wrong.
The question now is simple: does John Swinney know that his claims are untrue?
Is he failing to understand something which, in fairness, he has no knowledge or experience of?
Or is he misleading the public in a desperate attempt to save a failing policy?
Either way, Scotland’s parents, teachers and — most of all — children deserve far better than this. The Scottish Government should put pupils before politics and admit that they got it wrong.