THOUSANDS of pupils will sit new standardised tests twice in the first year to ensure the results are consistent across the country.

The Scottish Government said the one off exercise - understood to impact on some 8,000 pupils - was required to ensure the assessments are working properly.

The development emerged as a freedom of information request showed ministers cannot guarantee the controversial assessments will provide a national picture of performance.

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Officials previously said the data would “help identify emerging issues at national level such as lack of progress in a particular element of learning and will allow us to target national improvement activity where there are particular issues”.

Herald View: New school tests must be able to measure progress

However, it has since emerged that it will be difficult to achieve this aim because the government has ruled out blanket testing where large groups of pupils sit the assessments at the same time.

Instead, teachers will decide when pupils will sit the assessments - which have been introduced for pupils in P1, P4, P7 and S3.

An email on the issue from Audrey MacDougall, head of the Scottish Government’s education analytical services division, states: “We could only use this at national level, ie be able to comment on issues that impact across the country, if sufficient numbers of children take the assessment at around the same time.”

She then gives the example of half of pupils taking it at the beginning of the school year and half taking it at the end.

Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservative Party, criticised the government for watering down their proposals.

She said: “The whole point of introducing standardised assessments is to ensure there is a national benchmark against which all schools are able to measure progress in literacy and numeracy at key stages in pupils’ schooling.

“That measurement should not become flexible in timing or be based solely on teacher judgment otherwise it loses its relevance.”

Ms Smith went on to call for ministers to reverse an earlier decision to remove Scotland from international surveys on education performance.

Iain Gray, education spokesman for the Scottish Labour Party, said the government’s testing policy was a “shambles”.

He added: “Ministers have abolished previous statistically valid literacy and numeracy surveys because the results were proving embarrassing.

“We face years of not knowing what is happening in our schools, which may suit a government making such a mess of education policy.”

Herald View: New school tests must be able to measure progress

Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said it was essential no pressure was placed on teachers to use the assessments at a certain point in time.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said the key picture of national attainment would be the annual publication of the curriculum levels pupils have achieved according to teachers.

She added: “The most complete way of measuring progress is achievement against relevant curriculum levels based on the professional judgement of teachers.

“Standardised assessments are only one source of information teachers have to inform their professional judgement.”

She added: “As we have previously stated, standardised assessment results in isolation will only give a snapshot of how a child is doing which is why we are focusing on CfE level data.”