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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-16171: Ross Greer (West Scotland)

Scottish Green Party

Date lodged: 25 April 2018

To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the research published in the Oxford Review of Education by Jerrim et al, PISA 2015: how big is the ‘mode effect’ and what has been done about it?, which suggests that computer-based assessments have a negative impact on pupil performance when compared with paper-based assessments.

Answered by: John Swinney 10 May 2018

The research published in the Oxford Review of Education by Jerrim et al, PISA 2015: how big is the ‘mode effect’ and what has been done about it? refers specifically to a PISA assessment that was available in both paper and computer-based formats. The learners involved did not have the same experience.

Research shows that there are advantages and disadvantages to both modes of assessment. The computer-based assessment is adaptive, getting more or less challenging dependent on how a learner responds. This tailors the questions to the needs and progress of each individual learner in ‘real time’. Computer-based assessment provides a breadth of diagnostic information in a number of formats and does not require teacher time to mark the answers. These are key factors in the Scottish National Standardised Assessments.

The Scottish National Standardised Assessments are a level playing field: all learners are presented with computer-based assessments, therefore there is a clear and fair baseline. The Assessments are not high stakes and there is no pass or fail. The key measure of achieving a Curriculum for Excellence level is teacher professional judgement. The Scottish National Standardised Assessments are one part of a range of evidence available to teachers when making this judgement.