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An interesting trend with NC L5 at KS2 SATs

(54 Posts)
PastSellByDate Fri 02-May-14 10:29:28

Hello all:

My fondness of numbers/ statistics has lead me to consider some interesting tables the Guardian published regarding this past December's announcement of 2013 (May 2013 cohort) KS2 SATs results:

The article is an interesting read - but scroll down to the tables of overall results in England between 1997 - 2013 for English & Maths and there is a rather interesting trend:

English: 1997 20% achieve NC L5 and this steadily climbs until 2007 48% achieve NC L5 - and it stays in this general approaching 50% ball park until 2013 (48% that year).

Maths: 1995 - 13% attained NC L5 and this climbs to 31% in 2005 and then on up to 41% in 2013.


I'm sure there isn't a simple explanation - but if basically 50% of all English pupils are attaining NC L5 in English & 40% are attaining NC L5 in Maths - and there isn't a watering down of standards (which as a parent I can't really determine) - does this mean that NC L4 needs to be presented to parents as the minimum a child should achieve?

I just wonder if our school had been aiming for NC L5 rather than scraping NC L4 - if this entire process of preparing for KS 2 SATs would have been less stressful for the school (? less stressful for parents having to deal with kids suddenly getting endless photocopies of KS2 SATs busters books for homework after years of no homework at all/ and endlessly taking past KS2 papers for 'practise').

Our school seems to have thrown everything at DD1's Year 6 cohort in one last ditch effort to get >65% to NC L4+ in Maths/ English and I can't help but wonder if the pace of the curriculum and the standard of content hadn't been slightly higher if everybody wouldn't have had a more pleasant Year 6.

TeenAndTween Fri 02-May-14 10:53:04

I can't help but wonder if the pace of the curriculum and the standard of content hadn't been slightly higher if everybody wouldn't have had a more pleasant Year 6.

I agree that a good pace of teaching throughout juniors should mean it is not necessary to go OTT in y6.

ReallyTired Fri 02-May-14 11:07:03

I think that SATs results have improved as teachers have got better at teaching to the test.

Schools are expected to have better tracking systems. I agree with you the approach of throwing everything at year 6 is wrong. Schools are now expected to have decent systems for tracking progress.

MumTryingHerBest Fri 02-May-14 12:19:57

I think that, it is important to remember what SATs are there for. In my mind, and I appreciate that others will have a very different opinion on this, SATs are a measurement tool designed by the government in way of "claiming" they are making the educational system better and fairer.

The claim "making the system better" is based on helping as many children as possible achieve an acceptable level of education to put them in good stead for future academic progression or employment i.e. L2 in yr2 and L4 in yr6. For example, comparing the 1997 figure to the 2013 figure, it would seem educational standards have got better, yes? (not my opinion BTW)

The claim "making the system fairer", or it would seem to me at least, has resulted in little interest in demonstrating how many children can exceed these minimum levels as getting every child on the same level could be perceived as providing each of these children an equal opportunity in academic achievement or employment in the future i.e. making the system fairer.

Unfortunately, many people are driven by the top line statistics rather than the factors and influences that these figures are derived from, as highlighted by ReallyTired.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out in the next 2-6 years, given the imminent changes being made to SATs.

mummytime Fri 02-May-14 12:30:56

When the SATS were introduced L4 was set as the average standard that pupils were expected to reach. And average even in government speak meant: 50% better and 50% lower. They seem to have been exceeding this by 1997.
Government has since changed the meaning of "average" to mean everyone except a few with SEN. Around here that new meaning was moved towards more quickly than most places (90%+ has been school targets for quite some time).
Level 5 has moved from being a level for the brightest to being a level for 50% or more (which was why level 6 tests were introduced).
It is also why parents frequently panic in September when their children suddenly drop levels.
It could also be why they are totally overhauling the whole system, to call grades something else.

AmberTheCat Fri 02-May-14 12:48:29

I think L4 is seen as the minimum standard to which schools should aspire for most children, rather than an average (which, as your figures show, is not the case).

What I like about the proposals for the revised SATs is that schools will be judged on either the percentage of children who achieve the minimum standard (which is being raised to 85% achieving the equivalent to a current L4b) OR the number of children making sufficient progress from their starting point (the measure for this is currently still woolly). It's not perfect, but it a) recognises that some schools have much more challenging intakes than others, and b) incentivises schools to help all children to make as much progress as possible, rather than focusing on getting children over an arbitrary line.

PastSellByDate Fri 02-May-14 13:13:55

Thanks all - very interesting perspectives (from some teachers I suspect).

Amber - hadn't heard about the forthcoming changes to KS2 SATs - but like what you have suggested may be happening.

AmberTheCat Fri 02-May-14 14:21:53

More info here, PSBD, if you fancy some bedtime reading:

PastSellByDate Fri 02-May-14 14:50:35

Thanks Amber - you know me too well - I'm the nutty parent who actually will read this with interest.

But then again I was the mad woman arguing with the HT & Deputy HT that division should be taught in primary school and being told my expectations who too high.

I know the saying is Parents mess you up. But genuinely I think poor primary education does a lot more damage.

PastSellByDate Fri 02-May-14 14:51:34

sorry who to high should have been

were too high.

mrz Fri 02-May-14 17:30:46

When the KS2 tests were introduced in 1995 many children in my local school achieved level 6 and then a few years later level 6 tests were abandonded only to be reintroduced in 2012 ... full circle

mummytime Fri 02-May-14 17:49:37

Division is taught in infant schools, well in my experience. Or did you mean long division? That is taught in primary (and year 2 I remember) of course by the "bus stop" method.

I argue for more loops in handwriting - and have been told how old fashioned I am, despite how other places teach writing.

Feenie Fri 02-May-14 19:38:30

Playing Politics with the 3Rs

PiqueABoo Fri 02-May-14 19:56:24

What AmberTheCat said. Any L4 was the floor standard but now it's L4b, shortly to become some scaled score in the test formerly known with astonishing stupidity as 'Secondary Readiness' in the assessment & accountability consultation.

The 85% is interesting. Look at a normal distribution, a bell curve, and that line is roughly one standard deviation to the left of mean. For all the talk of criterion referencing, that is difficult to ignore and it looks a teensy bit like norm referencing.

Similarly, I'm no expert but get the impression there are some stories that could be told about the errm.. not necessarily exact but politically convenient relationship between the defined NC levels and what SATs report.

spanieleyes Fri 02-May-14 20:39:04

Schools are already measured on the progress all children make from their starting point, the percentage reaching 4b is only ONE of a raft of targets schools have to reach to try to keep OFSTED happy
Raiseonline currently measures and schools are judged on:
percentage achieving level 4
percentage achieving level 4b
percentage achieving level 5
percentage achieving level 6
percentage making 12 points progress
percentage making 14 points progress
percentage making 16 points progress
( for Reading, writing, maths and SPAG in each case)
percentage of FSM and Ever6 children achieving the same, and
percentage of EAL children achieving the same, and
percentage of SEN children achieving the same

and a host of other measures too!

Schools have to be "above average" in all these measures just to keep the wolves from the door

HolidayCriminal Fri 02-May-14 20:42:49

I can't figure out what OP is asking.
but Thanks for making me feel bad that DS will only be 4b in English at end of y6. Cheers.

PastSellByDate Sat 03-May-14 03:31:01

My apologies Holiday

My post was not intended to make anyone feel bad.

At our school for the last 3 years the trend has been 30 - 35% NC L3 and 65% - 70% NC L4+. NC L5+ has never exceeded 12% at the school.

4b is a good result - it is the national target for primary pupils. I also think individual context is everything - for you and your DC this may be a huge achievement - and that also has to be considered (which is why I think attaining expected/ above expected progress figure is important).

The recent changes in KS2 performance tables ( mean it is now possible for parents to see what % scored NC L4+ (so 4c+) and what percentage scored NC L4b+. Our school has 40%-45% students failing to achieve NC L4b.

So my question was in a context where our school have always stated the aim is to get pupils to NC L4/ "we only teach to NC L4" is the mantra (I'm not the only parent to be told that when I ask about why x or y doesn't seem to have been taught - you know daring things like long multplication/ divison, percentage/ proportion or mean/ mode/ median).

My post was just wondering out loud would these results have been better at our school if staff were aiming to get a significant proportion of the cohort to NC L5 and including that level of work in the curriculum?

With 30 - 40% of students failing to achieve NC L4 at our school - trust me all of those parents would be thrilled with your child's 4b result HolidayCriminal.

spanieleyes Sat 03-May-14 07:36:20

Your school is clearly run by idiots! Our aim is to get children as far as they can go but this is an individual target it's up to us to ensure that each child makes the progress they can , not as a whole cohort . so for one child this might mean achieving a 4 b but for another it would be a 5 or a 6. Achieving a level four has always been only one measure against which schools are assessed,clearly your school had no idea!

mummytime Sat 03-May-14 09:22:38

I think it is your school that has the problem. Is it just your school locally, or does this explain regional differences? I can't imagine that all children in somewhere like Surrey are brighter than elsewhere.
These are the SATs results for one local school with a very challenging intake.

spanish11 Sat 03-May-14 09:58:05

My son is in year 7 ( top group, he is a level 6), this week he has been learning how to multiply decimals ( in my country I learned this in year 3, in year 7 I was doing equations).

mrz Sat 03-May-14 10:20:29

Equations are level 5

Meglet Sat 03-May-14 10:27:09

DS is in Y2 and he's being taught division. I think his school are aiming for L6 for some of the year 6's (or 4th year junior as my old brain always thinks of it).

TheGruffalo2 Sat 03-May-14 10:36:32

Surely all schools get set targets, like ours, of level and progress. We hit above "national expectations" every year. I'm more concerned tracking % making "expected progress", "better than expected progress" and most importantly "not making expected progress" as that is what I have to discuss with governors and OFSTED.

spanish11 Sat 03-May-14 12:10:16

By ecuations I mean x+y= 10 and 2x+ 7=13

mrz Sat 03-May-14 13:02:56

So was I spanish examples of Level 5 equations are

x + 4 = 7

4/x = 6

x – 9 = 34
8x = 56
3x = 5

x+ 14 = 9
5x+ 3 <10

4x + x + 8 = x + 8 + 3

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