The document seeks the views of interested organisations and individuals on the governments' plans for new arrangements for national testing in these important years of education.
Mr Forsyth said:
'This consultation document, on national testing in the first two years of secondary school, represents the government's response to the lack of progress by education authorities in Scotland in implementing 5-14 national testing in secondary schools.
'Today I have set out new arrangements for national testing in S1 and S2. This is a key element of the government's action to address concerns about attainment levels in these years. These new arrangements are in line with the fundamental principles of the 5-14 programme and seek to build on the extensive information coming forward from primary schools where national testing is now firmly embedded.
'I have no doubt that these new tests will be of immense benefit to pupils, parents and teachers in monitoring progress against agreed national standards and challenging pupils to achieve their own personal bests.
'I look forward to receiving positive comments on our proposals.'
-- The Education (Scotland) Act 1996 gave the Secretary of State the power to make regulations providing for testing of pupils in the first two years of secondary education in public and self-governing schools. Such regulations will require education authorities and boards of management to present pupils for testing except where that is not the wish of the child's parents or guardian.
-- The proposals for S1/S2 testing set out in the consultation document will ensure that the information about progress against national standards to which pupils and parents have become accustomed in primary school continues to be available once pupils start secondary school. They should give pupils, schools and education authorities strong incentives to raise attainment standards during the vital first two years of secondary schooling.
-- The tests will be externally set and marked by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) with the results being reported to parents and pupils. Three options are put forward for the actual format of the new testing arrangements. The preferred option is for pupils in both S1 and S2 to sit, at around Easter each year, one of five tests at overlapping levels, selected by the teacher as appropriate to each child.
-- The consultation document will be sent to all those organisations and individuals with an interest in children's education in these years. Comments are requested by 31 March.