Schoolzone blog: Primary assessment for accountability

Primary assessment for accountability


27 Nov 2015

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This article is intended as an all-you-need-to-know guide to primary assessment for accountability. Please email Schoolzone if you have any questions.



Reception baseline

This is often described as optional, formative assessment, but really it isn't: from 2016 it forms the only basis for measuring progress to the end of KS2 and floor standards will be based on progress from this test. It's also the basis for LA prior attainment funding.

  • To enable progress to be measured from when a cohort of children start school.
  • A teacher-administered, age-appropriate assessment conducted in the first half-term of a child starting in reception.
  • The reception baseline will measure progress from the start of school to the end of KS2.
  • STA is conducting a comparability study of the various approved assessment systems (sign up your school here).
More on the reception baseline (DfE)


KS1 tests - from May 2016

English reading

  • Two papers: one with text and questions combined.
  • One more challenging text with the questions in a separate booklet.
  • All pupils should be given the opportunity to sit both papers.

Grammar, punctuation and spelling

  • Emphasis on technical aspects of grammar.
  • Separate spelling test.
  • No English writing test (TA with LA moderation).


  • New arithmetic test introduced.

KS2 tests - from May 2016

English reading

  • Greater focus on fictional texts.
English grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • Greater focus on knowing and applying grammatical terminology with the full range of punctuation tested.
  • Technical terms in grammar tested.
  • Spelling patterns and methodologies form the basis of spellings tested.


  • Mental mathematics test removed.
  • Arithmetic test introduced to assess basic mathematical calculations.
  • No contextualised questions.
  • 36 questions, 40 marks available, 30 minutes duration.
  • Questions will cover:
      • straightforward addition and subtraction
      • more complex calculations with fractions
      • long divisions and long multiplications.

Scaled scores

Raw SAT and TA scores are converted to scaled scores, with 100 being the expected standard. Schools won't know what this standard is, in terms of raw scores until after the assessment data has been analysed by the government. It changes annually, depending on the tests actually used and the cohort taking it. This is a major shift from (supposedly) criterion-referenced NC levels, to norm-referenced scaled scores: NC levels allowed schools to monitor progress through the NC; scaled scores cannot.

  • Tests at the end of KS1 and KS2 will report in scaled scores.
  • The ‘expected standard’ will always be set at 100.
  • Raw scores in the test will be converted to scaled scores.
  • The ‘raw score’ that equates to 100 might be different each year.
  • Pupils who score 100 or more will have met the ‘expected standard’.
  • Pupils who score below 100 will not have met the ‘expected standard’.
  • For 2016 KS1 tests, conversion tables will be published on GOV.UK by the end of May 2016. In future years the marking guidance for the KS1 tests will include conversion tables. KS2 raw scores, scaled scores and whether each pupil has met the national standard will be published on the NCA tools website in July 2016.

    Teachers will need to use these to translate pupils’ raw scores into scaled scores to see whether each pupil has met the national standard.

    Headteachers will need to include results from the national curriculum tests in their annual reports to parents. They will need to report the pupil’s scaled score and whether or not they met the national standard.

    Scaled scores will be used as the baseline for the secondary progress measure, P8.


Each pupil’s KS2 score is measured against the average KS2 score for pupils nationally having the same prior attainment.

Up to and including 2019, progress to KS2 will use KS1 APS as the baseline, thereafter the reception baseline will be used for schools which have adopted it.

A school’s progress score will be calculated as the mean average of its pupils’ progress scores.

Just a word on "progress": the scores used in the progress measures are really value-added measures - the progress element is the national element of the calculation. an example of how this works follows, but the idea of this progress component is that:

  1. the government looks at the baseline score of all children (at KS1 or reception) then
  2. works out the national average KS2 score achieved by children with the same baseline score - the progress component
  3. individual children's scores are then compared to this average - the value-added component.

Calculating progress

Let's track Alex, who has just finished KS2.

At KS1 Alex's average point score (reading, writing and maths, RWM) was 17 (in levels, that would have been a 2a in each subject).

Alex's reading score at KS2 was 118.

Meanwhile, the government calculates that the average KS2 reading score score for all children with KS1 APS of 17 (like Alex) was 117. [Note after 2019, the reception baseline will be used instead of the KS1 APS]

So, Alex's progress score for reading = Alex's reading score minus the average reading score for pupils with the same KS1 APS ie:

Alex's progress score for reading = 118 - 117 = 1

Now for Alex's school - there were 30 children in the year: 10 of them scored 0 for progress in reading, 10 (including Alex) scored 1 and another 10 scored 2, so the average was (10 x 0) + (10 x 1) + (10 x 2) divided by 30 = 2 for reading.


Floor standards

There are two floor standards: progress and attainment. Schools need to make sure that they are above both. The terminology to get used to, in relation to these two standards is based on:

Progress: pupils need to make sufficient progress - average points progress

Attainment: pupils need to meet the expected standard - a percentage of those doing so.

More details of the meaning of these terms follow.


Progress floor standard

The government will decide whether Alex's school's 2 is enough ("sufficient progress"), once the new new SATs have been sat in May 2016, and will tell schools what is expects them to be. It's likely to be a minus figure, though.

Attainment floor standard

In 2016, a school will be below the floor standard if:

  • fewer than 65% of pupils achieve the expected standard in English reading, writing and mathematics and
  • pupils fail to make sufficient progress in English reading, writing or mathematics.
  • But, while the floor standard remains at 65%, schools will "need to aim" for at least 85% to achieve the (higher than previous, level 4) national standard.

Coasting schools

As if all this wasn't enough, the current proposal is to measure performance not just each year, as above, but across three years. Those that fall below the following measures in all three of years will be deemed coasting schools:

2014 < 85% pupils achieved L4+ and pupils failed to make expected progress

2015 < 85% pupils achieved L4+ and pupils failed to make expected progress

2016 < 85% pupils achieve the new higher expected standard and pupils fail to make sufficient progress (decided after first new SATs)

Coasting schools could be forced to become sponsored academies.



Do you understand the meaning and values of:

  • expected progress:
  • sufficient progress
  • expected standard?


Expected progress was what children should have made, based on the NC levels: this term won't be around much longer (it was progress between levels)

Sufficient progress is what schools will need to have made using the 'Alex' calculation above: we won't know what this is until 2016 results have been analysed. It's likely to be set at a point which means that around the same number of schools are below the threshold as at present (just under 800 schools). It's not really progress though, it's value-added since it's not being measured from a baseline.

Expected standard is what used to be level 4, but will now be higher. A scaled score of 100 will be the expected standard and raw SAT scores will be converted to this scale.

Please email Schoolzone if you have any questions.


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