The move comes in the first stage of the strategy agreed by the Action Group on Standards and launched by Mr Dewar last month.
Mr Dewar said:
'Over the next few days as they return from the Easter break every secondary school in the country will receive information packs and benchmarking information. Schools will then set new examination targets designed to give our children the best start in life - making sure they can get more standard grade and higher passes.
'Raising standards in education is central in our drive to equip Scottish children to face the challenges of the next millennium. This is the first step in the implementation of a national framework for setting targets for all Scottish schools. As a result of the strategy, all pupils stand to benefit and up to 16,000 pupils a year will achieve at a higher level.
'The provisional examination attainment targets for secondary schools being issued to schools and education authorities over the next few days are realistic and have been based on the levels of attainment already being achieved by other schools. Schools should be doing as well as other similar schools who are achieving better results. The questions schools should be asking themselves are - 'why others are doing better? How can we match them?''.
'Schools will soon begin working towards achieving the targets they set. I have every confidence they will rise to the challenge.'
1. Education authorities will today receive provisional examination attainment targets for secondary schools as part of the Setting Targets - Raising Standards in Schools initiative. Each school should receive its own provisional targets on or around April 20, 1998.
2. The Action Group on Standards in Scottish Schools was set up in July 1997 under the chairmanship of Mr Brian Wilson MP, Scottish Education Minister. The members of the Action Group, are drawn from across and beyond the field of education. In September the Action Group consulted on initial proposals for `Setting Targets' . The first stage of the strategy was launched by the secretary of state at a national seminar on March 4.
3. The secondary school targets are set in relation to attainment in:
- The percentage of the S4 roll achieving 5+ Standard Grades at (1-6);
- The percentage of the S4 roll achieving 5+ Standard Grades at (1-4);
- The percentage of the S4 roll achieving 5+ Standard Grades at (1-2);
- The percentage of the S4 roll achieving 3+ Higher Grades at (A-C) in S5; and
- The percentage of the S4 roll achieving 5+ Higher Grades at (A-C) in S5
4. Primary school targets will be set in relation to 5-14 levels reached by pupils in reading, writing and mathematics. Provisional 5-14 targets will be issued to schools in September 1998. At that time, secondary schools will receive 3 additional provisional targets relating to attainment of S2 pupils of level E in reading, writing and mathematics.
5. The national implications of the provisional targets set for schools are summarised in Annex 2 of Setting Targets - Raising Standards in Schools. Because of the flexibility which has been given to schools and education authorities in deciding final targets the national implications of the final targets towards which schools will actually work will emerge later this year when the final targets are returned to The Scottish Office.
6. The provisional targets for each school will not be published. They are being issued as working figures on which schools and education authorities will consult before firming up on final targets which will be collated by education authorities and sent by them to the HM Inspector of Schools Audit Unit by June 5, 1998. The Audit Unit will then report to the Minister's Action Group on Standards.
7. Future arrangements for publication of information for parents about schools including examination results and information about targets, will be considered by the Minister's Action Group on Standards at its next meeting.