A guide to your child's (somewhat confusing) key stage 1 SAT results

A guide to your child's (somewhat confusing) key stage 1 SAT results

For families in England the Key Stage one SAT test results will be due out very soon. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal however there's quite a bit of potential confusion for parents around how the results are scored and reported. Following on from my previous post on the Key Stage 1 test - this article tries to provide some clarity for parents.

What's New?

The tests use a system called scaled scoring which, how can I put this politely, is pretty confusing. It replaces the equally confusing National Curriculum levels! 

Adding to the confusion, some schools will tell parents their child's scaled score and some won't - instead they will just state whether or not they "have met the expected standard" in maths and reading at Key Stage 1. Many parents may not be aware the scaled scores exist. Some parents may want to know their child's score but don't know they first have to ask the school for it.

To understand more, here's a quick overview of how the Key Stage 1 test is marked:

Step 1 - Marking

Your child's test was marked in school by one of the teachers. This is a very matter-of-fact process using a marking scheme provided by the department of education.

Step 2 - The Raw Score

The marks are totalled up into one Raw Score for Maths and one for English / Reading. The maximum raw score for maths is 60 and for English / Reading it's 40. The Raw Score is pretty much what most people understand as the mark for the test. Get no questions correct and the raw score is zero. Get them all correct and the raw score is 60 for maths. So far so good, but hang on here's where it gets confusing!

Step 3 - The Scaled Score

The raw score is converted into a Scaled Score using a table provided by the department of education. Here's the table for the maths test:

(Updated for 2017. Source: School Week)

You can see that: 

  • The Raw Score goes from 0 to 60 but the Scaled score goes from 85 to 115
  • Scaled Scores of 100 or above are shaded blue. This is because the department of education has decided that 100 and above is viewed as "meeting the expected educational standard"
  • Several raw scores can fit into one scaled score - look at raw scores 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8  all these guys get a Scaled Score of 85
  • A child could get a scaled score of 85, which sounds okay, but they may actually have only answered 3 out of 60 questions correctly.

Questions parents may have:

Where is my child's scaled score?

Here's the Department of Education's response to whether schools should tell parents their child's scaled score:

"You [schools] must tell parents if their children have met the standard, but you are not obligated to provide a scaled score. Parents are entitled to ask for their child's scaled score and it should be provided on request."
- Standards and Testing Agency Jun 2016

What is a good scaled score?

Going by the department of education's guide a scaled score of 100 or above meets the expected standard. Obviously, the closer the score is to the maximum of 115 the better.

My child hasn't reached the "expected standard" - should I be concerned?

Don't be concerned. The "expected standard" has been set quite high so that 30-40% of children won't meet it.

If your child has scored lower than you expected there's a lot you can do to help their reading and maths at home. Speak to the teacher and perhaps read some of the articles on our blog suggesting ways to help with maths at home.

How does my child compare to others?

To get a better idea of how well your child is doing teacher-bloggers Michael T  and  Icingonthecake  have shed useful light. They've gathered Key Stage 1 scores from 2016 shared anonymously by 140 primary schools and some 6500 pupils. Since the sample is large, it's a reliable way to comparing scores. Here's a summary of their approximate findings (based on 2016 scores):



Do the scaled scores account for age?

No, they don't - and at age 6/7 an extra year makes quite a difference!

Why use scaled scores at all?

The tests and scaled scoring system are really designed to compare the performance of schools and the progress students through primary education - from the start of Key Stage 1 to the end of Key Stage 2. A scaled score gives a truer comparison than the raw scores.

Why test at Key Stage 1?

There's a healthy debate in teaching and the wider public about the rights and wrongs of testing at Key Stage 1. Here's the department of education's answer from their guide for parents (pdf)

"The reason this assessment happens is to make sure your child is on course to master the basics of reading, writing and maths by the time they leave primary school. But if problems are picked up early on, the school can invest time getting your child back on track straight away by providing extra support. The government wants to make sure every child has mastered the basics, so they can get on and do well in life. Understanding what a child can do at the end of key stage 1 is essential to ensure that they’re on the right track when they reach the end of primary school."
Standards and Testing Agency (England)

I'm Ged, Co-founder of Komodo, ex-maths teacher and dad. If you have any questions please get in touch.

About Komodo – Komodo is a fun and effective way to boost primary maths and literacy skills. Designed for 5 to 11-year-olds to use at home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning that fits around busy family life. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in maths and English – without keeping them at the screen for long.

Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at maths and literacy – you can even try Komodo for free.

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