Page last updated at 10:53 GMT, Tuesday, 5 August 2008 11:53 UK

Test results record small gains

graph showing results trend

There has been a slight improvement in children's attainment in English and maths tests in England's primary schools, provisional results show.

The proportion reaching the expected standard in English was 81% compared with 80% last year.

In maths it was 78% against 77%, while the science score was unchanged on 88%.

Publication has been denounced by a head teachers' union because of the delays and controversy around this year's test marking by contractor ETS.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) has said there is no evidence of problems with marking quality to require a delay in publication - and so has gone ahead with the scheduled release of the overall national results for England.

There are no equivalent tests or national results elsewhere in the UK.

Missing papers

These show the proportion of pupils who have achieved the expected national curriculum level for their age, known as Level 4 - the benchmark that will be used in the school "league tables" at the end of the year.

2008 KEY STAGE 2 RESULTS
LEVEL 4
English: 81% (80% last year)
Maths: 78% (77%)
Science: 88% (88%)
LEVEL 5
English: 29% (34%)
Maths: 31% (32%)
Science: 44% (47%)

The government's target - first set in 2002 - had been for 85% of children to reach this level in English and the same in maths.

The results also show the proportions achieving the next level - which are down this year.

The fall is most pronounced in English, with 29% reaching Level 5 compared with 34% last year. In maths it was from 32% to 31% and in science, from 47% down to 44%.

DCSF statisticians point out that comparisons with previous years are skewed by a change in the marking process this year.

This involved removing the practice known as "borderlining", which involved double checking all the test scripts with marks just below the benchmark level (but not above it), to see if they warranted any extra marks.

The effect is particularly significant in English, in which the marking is more subjective.

The statisticians say removing borderlining is estimated to reduce the percentage achieving Level 4 by 1.2 percentage points in English, 0.2 points in maths and 0.5 points in science.

At Level 5 the effect is even more pronounced: about 2.9 percentage points in English, 0.4 in maths and 1.5 in science.

The figures show that the proportion of children attaining Level 4 in reading, writing, maths and science was 61%. So almost four in 10 children did not reach the expected level in all subjects.

Overshadowed

The results are being overshadowed by the ongoing problems with marking this year's Sats, which is being investigated by an independent inquiry headed by Lord Sutherland.

TEST MARKS NEEDED TO ATTAIN LEVEL 4
Primary school
Writing: 25 marks out of 50 (50%)
Reading: 18 marks out of 50 (36%)
Maths: 45 marks out of 100 (45%)
Science: 41 marks out of 80 (51%)

The latest figures for completed marking show that 98.8% of results for English, 99.2% for maths and 99.3% for science have been returned.

However, the published results are based on an earlier release of data, on 15 July - so they comprise 94% of the English results and 97% of those for maths and science, the DCSF said.

ETS said that 97.1% of primary schools now had "full and complete" results for all three subjects - so about 460 do not.

Of the remainder, 2.8% had results in two subjects and 0.1% had only one subject's results.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority said on Monday that eight schools did not have any results.

ETS Europe vice-president, Andy Latham, said: "ETS has consistently and fervently asserted that this year's marking is of equal or greater quality that in previous years."


SEE ALSO
Sats results expected to fall
10 Jul 08 |  Education

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