Understanding Scaled Scores

The DfE has published information for headteachers, teachers, governors and local authorities about scaled scores and the national standard from 2016. You can read the full guidance on the DfE website here, and as this new method of reporting results can seem a lot to get your head around at first, we’ve summarised what we think are the key points below.

Why introduce a scaled score?

A new national curriculum brings the need for new national tests, which the STA will produce for Year 2 and Year 6 pupils to sit in May 2016. You can view information on the test frameworks and sample materials released by the DfE on 29th June here. These materials intend to give teachers a better understanding of the structure and content of the new tests.

In the new national curriculum, levels have been abolished. The government have said they took this decision partly in response to concerns about the validity and reliability of levels and sub-levels, but also because they were deemed a driver of ‘undue pace through the curriculum, which has led to gaps in pupils’ knowledge.’ The DfE are therefore changing how test performance is reported and from 2016 they will use scaled scores to report national test outcomes (a method used in numerous other countries).

So, what is a scaled score?

Using scaled scores enables test results to be reported consistently from one year to the next. Though national tests are designed to be as similar as possible every year in terms of demand, slight differences do occur. Scaled scores, however, maintain their meaning over time, so if two children achieve the same scaled score on two different tests, they will have demonstrated the same attainment. In the new scaled score for the national tests, 100 will always represent the ‘national standard’, but the ‘raw score’ (the total number of correct answers) that equates to it may be slightly different each year.

When will we know what 100 means?

The scaled score cannot be set in advance; the national standard and the rest of the scale will be set once pupils have taken the tests and they have been marked. Children in Year 6 in summer 2016 will be the first cohort to have studied sufficient content from the new curriculum and therefore should be adequately prepared to sit the new national tests. Setting a scaled score based on data from Year 6 pupils who sat the 2015 national tests simply wouldn’t be accurate. What we do know at this time is that there will be a lower end point below 100 and an upper end point above 100.

This useful diagram from the NAHT’s Scaled Scoring presentation neatly shows how a raw score can be converted into a scaled score:

Source: slideplayer.com/slide/4898520

Once the national standard has been set, scaling will be used to convert the raw score into a scaled score, and a conversion table will be published by the DfE once the first new tests have been completed in summer 2016. The DfE state that if children achieve the national standard (a scaled score of 100) they have demonstrated in the test sufficient knowledge in the areas assessed, therefore placing them in a good position to succeed in the next steps of their education.

How will the national standard compare to levels?

As old national curriculum levels are not relevant to the new curriculum, it is not recommended that schools spend time working out the comparative level in the old curriculum to see how secure a child is in their learning in the new curriculum. However, as a guide, the DfE state that in KS1 the national standard will broadly equate to an old level 2b, and at KS2 the national standard will roughly equate to an old level 4b (see their website for this comparison). However, it should be noted that the two are not directly comparable because the new national curriculum contains different content to the previous curriculum, so the new national curriculum tests are not assessing the same things. It is also worth noting that there will be only one set of test papers which all children sit, rather than tests for different levels as per the old national tests.

How will we get the results?

For KS1 tests taken in summer 2016, conversion tables will be published online by the DfE by the end of May 2016. Teachers will need to use the tables to convert the raw scores into scaled scores to see if children have met the national standard. The DfE recommend that these scaled scores are used to inform teacher assessment judgements.

For KS2, the DfE will publish the results on the NCA tools website in July 2016. For each registered child the school will see a raw score, a scaled score and clear confirmation as to whether they have met the national standard. Headteachers will need to include the test results in their annual report to parents and carers. They will need to report both the scaled score and whether the pupil has met the national standard for English and mathematics.

We hope you have found this summary helpful in understanding how the new national tests will be marked and reported. If you have any queries about the new national tests, there is a government-led National Curriculum Assessment Helpline which you can contact via email or telephone.

Email: assessments@education.gov.uk

Telephone: 0300 303 3013


key stage 1, key stage 2, national tests, new curriculum, scaled scores

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