Year 6 Maths SATs - low marks in practice tests - how much to worry??

(17 Posts)
AChickenCalledKorma Wed 13-Apr-16 22:11:37

DD2 is in year 6 and getting really stressed about maths SATs. We have had a number of conversations with her teacher who are adamant that she has nothing to worry about. She is the second most able group, knows her times tables, can do long division, fractions etc pretty confidently.

But the marks she is getting in practise tests really don't sound good and it is bothering her (and also me, if I'm honest!)

I know this year's tests are much harder so it's really hard to know what to think. I'd be really interested to hear from any year 6 teachers whether there ANY indication of the sorts of marks that are likely to be classed as "acceptable" and what sort of range children are generally achieving in whatever practise papers are out there.

(NB it is only maths that I'm interested in. Strangely enough she seems to find fronted adverbials a piece of cake!)

Mishaps Wed 13-Apr-16 22:16:44

It sounds as though the test situation is one that she finds problematical.

You do not need to worry. The purpose of SATs is to grade schools and not to help the child with their learning. They are creating unnecessary stress for Yr 6 pupils. Teachers mostly hate them, because it undermines their teaching process.

Treat it all with a pinch of salt and make sure that your DD knows that it simply does not matter.

In any event most of the maths she is doing now will simply be repeated in the first years of secondary school.

Boogers Wed 13-Apr-16 22:16:46

DS did the KS2 SATs last summer, I feel your pain.

If your DD's teacher says they aren't worried about her ability but you feel she's getting lower marks than she should be, is it possibly something to do with exam nerves? Could exam techniques help? At DS's school they laid on yoga sessions first thing in the morning which helped him. Is this an option with your DD?

mrz Thu 14-Apr-16 06:43:10

According to the Times lots of people find them difficult!

t4gnut Thu 14-Apr-16 08:35:47

SATs are meaningless.

DoItTooJulia Thu 14-Apr-16 08:40:32

I find all of this really unnecessary. I have a ds in y6 and the pressure about sats is ramping up in his world too.

I've told him that this is a measure of the school, not him, so he's just got to do what he always does-his best. We've had some lower results than expected so I went to see the teacher and he said it's a bit silly really because he's getting between 80 and 90% but they still think he can do better! At least he knew it was silly. Although it doesn't address the self esteem issues its creating.

Drives me potty.

Boogers Thu 14-Apr-16 10:08:21

I agree, it is pressure from the school. DS's year 6 teacher was pushing for him to take the higher papers in maths and literacy, but he was getting himself into such a state about it that I put my foot down and said no. He still achieved 99/100 in his maths paper and was a high five overall.

I understand why schools push more able children, and I understand the need for across the board measurement of a school's performance, but it just felt like a lot of pressure at such a young age.

To be fair though, they gave all children past papers and asked them to have a go over the holidays and weekends, but there was never and pressure to complete these outside of school time.

TeenAndTween Thu 14-Apr-16 11:36:17

My DD2 is y6 too.

Can I suggest you ask to see the practice papers she has done so far, bring them home for a weekend, and copy them?
Then go through identifying issues e.g.
- silly mistakes
- times table problems
- not reading question
- knows method but can't apply accurately in harder situations
- didn't pick correct method
- couldn't identify what was being asked
- clueless
- ran out of time so didn't attempt

Then you and she will know what to work on.

There are 2 types of paper, a basic skills paper plus 2 wordy papers. I could imagine she is fine on the arithmetic but failing on the word questions.

This method has worked well for me with DD1 up to GCSE and has helped me identify key things to help DD2 with.

Mishaps Thu 14-Apr-16 13:34:21

I think it is very important that you do not ask to see the papers (as suggested above) - that way you are giving credence to something that is nonsense. You need to be the voice of reason and balance.

TeenAndTween Thu 14-Apr-16 14:26:03

To clarify for Mishaps

I view looking at the papers and deciding from there whether to help as part of a long game, not a 'SATs High Mark' game. But it helps to do it now while school and child are motivated.

The child is bothered by her marks.
Everything on the maths SATs is useful stuff that will be needed to be learned sooner or later.
Doing tests is a part of secondary.

I am helping my (not very able) DD to do not so badly better in her maths SATs. Not to score highly, but so she learns in general
- to be more careful,
- read the questions,
- not to panic
But also to take the time while she is motivated to practice maths skills such as adding fractions, long division etc. If she can go up to secondary more confident about her maths that will build to better attainment then. Maths is a lot about confidence as much as skill.

It may be that the OP looks at the papers with her DD and decides she is doing fine and there is nothing to be done. Or she may spot threads of errors which the DD may wish to focus on.

(As a contrast, we are doing nothing at home on the harder grammar as most of it is beyond DD and I don't believe it will be built on much in secondary anyway)

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 14-Apr-16 22:44:28

Thanks for some interesting comments. Yes I do think it's the test situation she struggles with. It's a mixture of anxiety and difficulty with doing calculations at speed.

And I do agree with the view that SATs are pretty meaningless for the child, but the way they are handling them (badly) at her school is making it very hard for us to convince her not to worry. Hence trying to get some hard facts about what sort of score might actually be regarded as perfectly acceptable. The lack of any benchmark is really frustrating. I can see that she has actually made huge progress this year, but because of the big step up in the difficulty of the tests, she can't see it and is feeling inadequate. I can only play it down so much, because the school is going SATs crazy and heaping on the pressure. (Yes we are talking to them about it, but it's not really helping)

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 15-Apr-16 18:37:35

Whilst I understand why so many people say SATs are meaningless, one of the changes this year is that there will be a pass/fail. And in future years, those that fail will have to retake in the January of their year 7. I think the government have shifted the emphasis so that it is not just a measure of the schools's performance.

I would say that has a lot of meaning for the students.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 15-Apr-16 18:50:03


" A pupil who achieves the national standard will have demonstrated sufficient knowledge in the areas assessed by the tests. This will mean that they are well placed to succeed in the next phase of their education."
"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."

"We will publish KS2 test results on the NCA tools website in July 2016. Each pupil registered for the tests will receive:

a raw score (number of raw marks awarded)
a scaled score
confirmation of whether or not they attained the national standard"

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 15-Apr-16 21:07:20

There has always been a pass/fail, to the extent that level 4 was the expected standard. The difference this year is that there is still an "expected standard" but no-one knows what it is.

This time last year I could simple reassure my daughter that she was already working at level 4 or above so had nothing to worry about. This year I can't tell what level she's working at and whether it is comfortably at or above expectation. And since no-one has answered the question factually, I presume all teachers are also as in the dark as I suspected. It's like being told it's paramount that you hit a bulls eye and then being made to put on a blindfold and soon round in circles.

Not great for a child who struggles with anxiety and detests uncertainty, no matter how much I try to reassure her.

Smartiepants79 Fri 15-Apr-16 21:12:22

No one knows for sure what the pass mark will be. We've been led to believe that around 60/70 marks out of 110 will be good enough to be 'meeting expectations'.
This is however just an educated guess.
May I ask what her marks are. Can she tell you were she is missing marks? have you seen her papers?

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 15-Apr-16 21:19:45

There has always been a pass/fail, to the extent that level 4 was the expected standard.

I guess so, but I suppose as a Secondary school teacher I took levels to be a measure of where pupils were on a continuum that would move through KS3, rather than a pass/fail. This feels very much more than that, with the requirement that students retake the SATS if they don't pass the expected standard.

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 15-Apr-16 21:56:59

Yes I agree that the requirement to resit is a game-changer. I'm immensely grateful that we have missed that on by a year.

smartiepants she has had a handful of maths papers where she got 12 to 15 out of 36. I'm assuming that is just one of several papers, since the mark is out of 100? And there are other papers where she's done better.

I haven't seen her papers and I'm very reluctant to ask for more details because I don't want to reinforce her school's apparent view that slogging through endless practise papers and harranging them about their results is remotely helpful!

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