Last Thursday, the 2016 primary school performance tables for Key Stage 2 SATs results were published by the Department for Education. The test scores show which schools met the Government’s targets. This year, a school will be deemed to be above the floor standard if at least 65% of pupils meet the expected standard, which was previously Level 4, in reading, writing and mathematics, or if the school satisfies separate pupil progress measures. Since 53% of schools met the expected standard, the list of this being below the floor standard is going to be quite long but it is thought that numbers will be reduced from 2015 outcomes.
As well as the percentage of pupils reaching the expected standard, there is an additional measure which tells the percentage of pupils who met the higher standard, which was previously known as Level 5. According to the latest data, only 5% of schools achieved the higher standard in reading, writing and maths.
Comparisons with previous results aren’t really very useful or indeed advisable, since previous tables looked at levels and average point scores across all subjects. Also, because of the new primary curriculum, the expected standard is not a direct equivalent to Level 4.
So, what have we learned from the latest data? From the analysis in the media this week, we have gleaned the following –
London’s schools were the least likely to fall below the expected standard, with just 1% of schools doing so. In the South West and the East Midlands, the figure was as high as 7%. In terms of the 152 Local Authority areas, Bedford was the worst performer with 20% schools falling below the floor standard and Dorset was second worst on 18% below floor. Thirty-five Local Authorities, 23%, didn’t contain a single school below floor.
However, despite the different tests and indeed outcomes measures, some things haven’t changed.
Girls did better than boys by 7%, despite the emphasis on progress made rather than attainment. However, despite their stronger performance overall, girls made less progress than boys in maths.
Free school meal eligibility is still a key issue with just 35 per cent of FSM pupils achieving the expected standard across reading, writing and maths compared to 57 per cent for all other pupils. There is a similar divide in terms of progress in individual subjects with the biggest gap in reading.
Fifty percent of pupils learning English as an additional language reached the expected standard in all of reading, writing and mathematics, lower than the national but these pupils tended to make far better progress than those with English as a first language, a trait we have seen in previous year.
Pupils with summer birthdays were less likely to do well, with age remaining a key indicator of attainment but it appears the reverse is true when it comes to progress made, with younger pupils making larger improvements than elder peers.
The changes to this years tests have been significant and some might say have been introduced in too much of a rush, but at least the two-pronged approach of progress and attainment will hopefully ensure we make meaning from the results for the benefit of pupils subsequent learning experiences in schools, colleges and academies.