2021 Primary Data Jargon Buster for Parents
Updated: January 2021
Confused by the all the scores, stars and SATs results? School Guide is here to help parents navigate the world of official school statistics. We've done all the homeowork and put together this straightforward jargon buster to help parents understand key school statistics and choose the best school for their child with confidence and clarity.
These scores come from the marks on each of their test papers and are combined to show what percentage of pupils meet or exceed the expected national curriculum standard.
The scores replaced the old levels (phased out in 2018) which measured pupils by levels from 1-6 with 4 being the expected level.
We display four official headline measures for scaled scores:
% of pupils in the school meeting the expected standard in reading, writing & maths
% pupils in the school achieving a higher standard in reading, writing & maths
Average scaled score for maths (per pupil)
Average scaled score for reading (per pupil)
This is how School Guide displays the scaled scores for reading and maths:
Expected or higher standard in Reading and Maths
Children are expected to achieve a scaled score of 100 or more on their SATs paper for maths and reading. Writing is teacher assessed, and this assessment goes towards determining whether they have met or exceeded the expected national curriculum standard for reading, writing and maths. Children also sit an English grammar punctuation and spelling test this but this score is not fed into the overall result published in the government’s headline figures.
The national average for the percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard is 65% so parents may want to look for figures that are at least this if not higher.
Pupils achieving a higher standard will have a scaled score on their maths and reading paper of 110 or more and be assessed as ‘working at a greater depth within the expected standard’ by their teacher for their writing. The higher standard represents on the top 5% of pupils in England so any percentage above zero is good. 0% does not mean the school has failed its pupils but rather no pupils reached the tougher higher standards.
In addition to percentages of pupils achieving expected and higher standards, we also show the average scaled score for reading and maths per school, as well as the national average.
The range of scaled scores:
80 is the lowest scaled score awarded
100 is the expected scaled score
103 is the national average scaled score for reading and maths
110 or more is the higher scaled score (top 5% of pupils)
120 is the highest scaled score awarded
Parents need to be aware when talking to schools about their own child’s results that the government’s scaled scores are converted from a child’s raw score i.e. the actual number of marks they got on the test. This is done to help compare scores over time and ensure a child who gets a score, for example, of 103 in 2019 has the same level of attainment as a child gaining 103 in 2020.
Progress scores are new measures that help parents see how well a school is progressing pupils based on pupils of a similar level in other schools across England. Progress is tracked from the end of Key Stage 1 (age 7) to Key Stage 2 (age 11).
Progress measures are a type of value added measure (School Guide showed the old value added score in previous data years) but take into account the starting level of pupils, whether low, middle or high attainers. The government says: “These new measures reward schools for making progress with all their pupils… They are fairer to schools in challenging circumstances, as they recognise a school that is doing a good job with an intake with low prior attainment.” Read more here.
School Guide displays three headline measures for progress: reading progress score, writing progress score and maths progress score. This score shows how much progress pupils at this school made in each between the end of Key Stage 1 and 2. The majority of schools have a progress score between -5 and +5.
This is how School Guide displays the progress scores:
The average progress score, for all mainstream pupils in England, is zero. A progress score will therefore be presented as positive and negative numbers either side of zero. School Guide displays positive scores in an upwards arrow and negative scores in a downwards arrow to visually simplify progress.
A positive score means pupils in this school, on average, do better than those with similar starting points across England.
A negative score does not mean that pupils did not make any progress, rather it means they made less progress than other pupils nationally with similar starting points.
School Guide Star Rating
Our unique rating for each school ranges from one to five stars us based 100% on official data. The rating gives a clear and easily understood summary of how well each school has performed in the previous year based on key statistics.
All children in English state schools sit national curriculum tests in Year 2 (age 7) and Year 6 (age 11) but only Year 6 tests are marked externally and the results published by the Department for Education. This is why we are only able to give schools with Key Stage 2 (or junior data) a School Guide star rating.
You may see a variation in ratings from previous year. This is to be expected in line with the new tougher tests and assessment framework. Please see our About page for more information on how we calculate our School Guide star ratings.