Data recently released for the first time by the Scottish government concerning how well schools in the country are performing on reading, writing, and math has found an extensive gap between the performance of low-income children when compared to their wealthier peers.

Results of the data found just 54% of low-income students are meeting the writing standards by their final year of primary school that is expected of them by the Curriculum for Excellence in comparison to 78% of their wealthy peers.  In addition, only 58% of P7 children from poor areas were found to meet the standards for literacy, while 80% of students from more affluent areas met these standards.

In all, over 25% of all P7 students were unable to meet reading standards, while more than one-third did not meet the level for writing they were expected to, and close to one-third did not reach the standards for numeracy, reports Simon Johnson for The Telegraph.

The results were not all bad.  In terms of reading, the results show 81% of P1 students earning “Early Level”, while 75% of P4 students earned “First Level,” and 72% of students earned “Second Level” in the same area.  Meanwhile, the data shows improvements within secondary schools, as the number of P3 students earning at least the third level to be between 84% and 87% for each curriculum area studied, including reading, writing, listening and talking, and numeracy.

The Scottish government does warn that the Achievement of Curriculum for Excellence Levels information requires additional development before the results portrayed could be considered accurate.  Because it is the first time the information is being released, the government say that it is too early to tell whether the data suggests the situation is becoming worse or getting better.

Level 3 is considered to be the basic level of achievement for an S3 student.  As such, the data suggests that the number of students reaching this level is on par with the number of primary students who are reaching the levels that they are expected to, although a small portion do reach Level 4.  Those who reach Level 3 status are considered to be “academically able,” or equivalent to the standard required for the National 4 qualification.

Usually obtained by Level 4 students, the National 4 qualification is on the same level as a General level pass in an old Standard Grade.  Students who obtain this qualification are not studying for a National 5 or a Higher.

Reports from the BBC suggest that this information shows the issue within the education system of ensuring that students continue to make progress when they reach secondary school.  This issue is particularly true for boys that reach secondary school.

In addition, the data shows a significant difference in the way students are taught in various parts of the country.  For example, 52% of P4 students in Aberdeen were found to achieve writing level skills in comparison with 91% of their peers in Perth and Kinross.  In addition, just 58% of S3 students in Clackmannanshire reached expected numeracy levels in comparison to 97% of their peers in East Dunbartonshire.

While the government has admitted to inconsistencies in the way students are assessed in various areas, it adds that there are plans to implement standardized assessments in order to increase the consistency across the country.

SNP Education Minister John Swinney stated that the results show “where excellence already exists and where there is more to do,” adding that some of the variance shown is due to “inconsistencies” in how performance is assessed by councils.  He added that plans to address this issue would be implemented next year with the introduction of standardized assessments and an increase of 253 teachers.

“Even taking these inconsistencies into account, the data shows that significant improvements are required in some local authorities and real challenges exist in delivering the progress in literacy and numeracy that we seek.

“I would encourage parents to consider the school-level information that is now available and to discuss it with their child’s school,” Swinney said in a statement to parliament.