New primary data (England): a guide for parents

Year 6 pupils across England sat new, more rigorous, national curriculum tests (known as Sats) in 2016. They were the first group of children to be tested under the new national curriculum introduced two years earlier.  

Along with the new tests came a new results system. This year, for example, children are no longer graded by levels. Parents are given a score for their child, basically the number of marks they received on each test paper, and told whether they reached the expected national curriculum standard. 

New tests and new results means new data for School Guide. The government published their primary performance data in December 2016 and we have made changes to our easy-to-read pages to help simplify the key statistics for parents. 

So, what’s changed? 

Whether you are a parent coming to primary data for the first time or you were familiar with the old style primary data with levels and want to know what’s changed for the 2016 results, this summary will help simplify the key statistics.   

All children are tested and marked on reading, maths and spelling, punctuation and grammar (SPAG) and their writing is teacher assessed.

Scaled scores

Scaled scores replace the old levels – pupils used to be expected to reach Level 4 by age 11. 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.

This is how School Guide displays the new scaled scores for reading and maths:













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)

Expected or higher standard

Children are now expected to achieve a scaled score of 100 or more on their Key Stage 2 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. As the scaled scores were new for 2016, the government called on an expert panel of teachers to set the expected standard level on each test.

The percentage of pupils meeting the expected standard may not be as high as the number of children previously achieving the expected Level 4. The government is clear that it is not possible to make year-on-year comparisons. As 53% is the national average across all schools in England for the percentage of children achieving the expected standard, 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 score was determined based on the distribution of results to show the pupils achieving a higher mark on the 2016 tests. As this is only the top 5% of pupils in England, any percentage above zero is good. 0% does not mean the school has failed its pupils but rather no pupils reached this tough standard in 2016. 

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 2016 has the same level of attainment as a child gaining 103 in 2017. Read more about the conversion from raw to scaled scores here.


Progress Scores 

Progress scores are new measures that help parents see how the 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 new 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 and our algorithm has been updated to incorporate the new 2016 performance measures. 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. 

New secondary (GCSE and A level) data 

New secondary data will be released by the government to show the 2016 GCSE and A Level results on 19 January 2017. We will then update our secondary School Guide pages. 

You can view provisional 2016 secondary data here


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