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Do the SATS/CVA averages really matter?

(24 Posts)
yellowsubmarine41 Sat 08-Oct-11 18:47:58

Having a debate with a friend. I sort of think they do, though not at expense of all else. Art, music and pastoral care equally as important. She's not at all interested in them, and thinks that a bright child from a supportive home environment will be okay whatever.

We're talking primary here.

What do y'all think?

DanFmDorking Sat 08-Oct-11 19:58:31

CVA scores show the progress a school has helped its students make from the end of one key stage to another.

They complement test and examination results that are published to give a fair guide to the performance of a school.

Test and examination results and CVA scores will not give you a complete picture of a school. However, they may help give you a better picture of a school you are considering.

Try reading this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and this.

Good luck

IndigoBell Sat 08-Oct-11 20:08:12

I think I tend to agree with your friend.

The amount of kids getting level 4s or 5s at the end of Y6 tells you nothing.

How many of them have been at the school for many years?
How many of their parents can read / speak English?
How many of them have been tutored?
etc.

The CVA score is meant to tell you more, ie it's meant to tell you how many kids should have got a L4 and did get a L4. Except the way it's calculated is a bit dodgy. And this year they're changing it to just be VA......

blackeyedsusan Sat 08-Oct-11 20:59:09

I would put the social/emotional side of school first. if a child is happy they learn better, and there are ways of supplementing academics, it is difficult to compensate for the low level bullying that can go on in school and is difficult to pinpoint.

AICM Sat 08-Oct-11 22:06:56

It only matters to Head Teachers.

Mokemum Sun 09-Oct-11 05:33:56

I agree with your friend - I've seen children tutored and pushed through nightly sats revision tests for 6 months all for the glory of a level 5 - the child's final improved score had very little to do with quality teaching.
My friends have had their dcs do very little in year 6 other than prepare for sats - being taught to test is hardly an inspiring way to educate but it gets the school results - I pity the poor kids though. Would rather have a school that focused on the whole child not on scores for league tables. I would be deeply suspicious of a school who scored consistently highly every year - it suggests sats factory rather than good teaching to me. Of course it can mean fantastic teaching too but I'd need to know which before choosing the school and i would be avioding the pushy sats factory at all costs.

yellowsubmarine41 Sun 09-Oct-11 06:53:13

Thanks all. Yes, there are definitely schools around here where parents complain that the whole of year 6 is devoted to sitting SATS papers to keep the school grades up. This is unappealing, though so is a school with very poor results as this suggests not very good teaching.

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 07:24:27

Exactly. I wouldn't choose a school with very high SAT results, nor would I choose a school with very low SAT results.

But actually one of the stats I would look at is how many children are on the SEN register. If it is well below the national average I would be concerned, because it may indicate a school with bad pastoral care, which the most vulnerable children choose to leave.

Ben10WasTheSpawnNowWeLoveLego Sun 09-Oct-11 07:30:28

Why would you tutor for SATs? Am I missing something?

yellowsubmarine41 Sun 09-Oct-11 07:37:50

Because 'everyone else does' and, whether SATS were designed to test the school or not, the reality is that it matters to many parents and indeed children what 'grade' they get.

There's a school in a very affluent area near here where over 90% families tutor for SATS. The school doesn't discourage it as their SATS results are fantastic.

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 07:41:59

Ben10 - some secondary schools stream based on your SAT results.

I recommend looking round secondary schools in Y5 and finding out if they stream based on SAT results, or based on their own tests.

Although actually they stream on predicted SATs not real SATs because they don't get the results in time.....

yellowsubmarine41 Sun 09-Oct-11 08:19:51

That's a good point, re SEN, indigo. The school in questions had 20% SEN who are supported at school (about 10% statemented in 2010.

SATS results were very low in 2009 - 40% achieving L4s in English and Maths, though have risen to 63% this year.

Sounds like a school in the up, though definitely a worry.

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 08:46:38

Yeah, those SATS are very low.

20% SEN is more or less average. So they can't say that the 37% who didn't learn to read and write, had SEN sad

However the dramatic rise in results is encouraging. What has changed in the school?

I would ask the HT why the results were so low. And listen to whether she was blaming parents / EAL/ SEN / FSM / mobility - or taking responsibility for the problem.

And would also ask why they have risen.

seeker Sun 09-Oct-11 08:51:24

cVA is very important- that really reflects what the school does for the children based on the level they come in at. So a school may have fantastic SATS but if the children mostly come into reception at a higher than average level, the school may not have " added much value". Whereas a school with less impressive SATS may have a belo average intake and add fantastic amounts of value.

yellowsubmarine41 Sun 09-Oct-11 09:03:15

What's changed is improvements in the marking/teaching/assessment, followed by a notice to improve and significant core staff change. Also, that the school has started to 'teach to SATS' - not obsessively, but kids certainly do a few test papers now.

The HT does acknowledge this, though the exceptionally poor year (results were in the 60% previously) was attributed to lots of families with more able pupils shipping out for secondary. 35 out of the 60 children who completed year 6 hadn't been in the school throughout even KS2. This sounds like a lot, although population movement has slowed down considerably over the last few years.

Ben10WasTheSpawnNowWeLoveLego Sun 09-Oct-11 09:09:31

I know that our school is one of the top in the LA for CVA as a lot of the kids start off so low and we have v high SEN (around 40% combined on School Action Plus, School Action and Statemented).

Indigo the whole secondary thing just fills me with horror at the moment. He's only in Y2 but due to his SN, I'm quickly rethinking our secondary expectations which were the grammar schools of which we have 4 in the LA. Now am looking at inclusive options and it will therefore be much more important for me I think to make sure that he is streamed correctly - DS bored in a low academic stream would not be a good combo.

Gotarty Sun 09-Oct-11 11:46:43

But a school who obsessively taught to test in Years 5 & 6 and had parents who got their children tutored for the Sats would still have impressive CVA scores, wouldn't they?

seeker Sun 09-Oct-11 12:06:03

Sadly, the children whose parents tutor them for SATs are unlikely to be the ones who come into reception well below the national average. And ditto the school coaching- you can't teach to the test if the kids haven't been taught the basics well.

adelaofblois Sun 09-Oct-11 13:47:34

Clearly, attainment levels tell very little for one year in one catchment. (C)VA scores are tricky to formulate, but may tell you more.

They can only be cooked so far, by tutoring to boost individual scores or teaching to a test. In order for a school to have significant numbers of pupils achieving good progress across four years (the KS1-KS2 levels) that school will have had to have had a decent assessment framework in place, some coherence in its leadership and yearly handovers, and capable teachers in all the years. It is certainly hard to imagine a school with those in place performing markedly below average in CVA scores over a period of time.

However much you might disapprove (and rightly so) on the sheer focus on academic achievement in core subjects, they may indicate something about how the school is run that should influence your judgment.

IndigoBell Sun 09-Oct-11 16:06:11

Adela - but what if the school population is highly mobile?

In this school over 50% of the children have not been at the school for the entire KS2. Is it fair to judge the school on those kids?

And doesn't CVA scores expect less from some kids than from others?

I'm going to backtrack from what I said originally smile A school with very low SAT scores would concern me.

But I wouldn't care whether a school had average or high SAT results.

adelaofblois Sun 09-Oct-11 16:37:25

IndigoBell

I agree entirely that bad SATS are the problem, and that good SATS do not make a good school.

Because I can also see why expecting all children to make 2 levels of progress might be seen as expecting less from some attainment wise. But it is surely a better measure than simple attainment? And, yes, mobility is a huge problem. It isn't just that the teaching that produces the results varies, but that in some cases there are no KS1 SATs results extant. In that case the only way you can show two levels of progress for certain is to get that child to obtain a Level 5-since Level 3 was the most possible at KS1.

But the point is that these problems are ones that heads and staff with decent pupil tracking systems in place would be aware of. Yes, our SATS are low, but we achieve very good progress for those here full-time from years 3-6, those figures are....; yes, we have a high proportion of SN children, some are not achieving targets, we have overhauled provision in the following way and the first two years under that system have achieved at rate...'.

Bad SATS, especially CVA scores, should raise questions. Schools with bad SATS may be able to answer them. But they may not, and in that case they are almost certainly bad schools.

yellowsubmarine41 Sun 09-Oct-11 17:08:06

In this particular school, kids who have been there throughout progress at least 'satisfactorily'. KS2 maths results are broadly within national averages (with very low average starting points), though English in the low 60%s (lots of children in early stages of learning English entered the school in KS2). The population has become more stable now, though this won't be evidenced in KS2 levels for a few years.

adelaofblois Sun 09-Oct-11 17:30:28

Ask about levels of progress-what percentage are achieving the expected 2 levels of progress over KS2? What plans does the school have to raise this, are their particular groups who seem to be underperforming? What are their present tracking data revealing about yrs 3 and 4? They don't have to divulge this, but if they have SATs at that level they should be looking very very closely at why.

It's the answers to those that tell you how the school is doing-the SATS indicate an issue, the school's answers settle the debate.

yellowsubmarine41 Sun 09-Oct-11 17:50:28

Yes, that tracking is now in place and areas of underachievement being identified and action taken.

A 50% increase in SATS scores is encouraging, I guess, even given a very low starting point.

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