Guidance

Understanding scaled scores at key stage 2

Information for schools and local authorities about scaled scores and the expected standard for the 2019 national curriculum tests.

Overview

At the end of key stage 2 (KS2) pupils take national curriculum tests in mathematics, English reading and English grammar, punctuation and spelling. We use scaled scores to report the outcomes of these tests to ensure we can make accurate comparisons of performance over time.

Scaled score conversion tables

You will find the conversion tables here.

What is a scaled score?

Tests are developed to the same specification each year. However, because the questions must be different, the difficulty of tests may vary. This means we need to convert the total number of marks a pupil gets in a test (their ‘raw’ score) into a scaled score to ensure we can make accurate comparisons of performance over time.

Pupils scoring at least 100 will have met the expected standard on the test. However, given that the difficulty of the tests may vary each year, the number of raw score marks needed to achieve a scaled score of 100 may also change. For example, if the overall difficulty of a test decreases compared to previous years, the raw score required to meet the expected standard will increase. Similarly, if the test is more difficult, the raw score required to meet the expected standard will decrease.

In 2016, panels of teachers set the raw score required to meet the expected standard. We have used data from trialling to maintain that standard for the tests from 2017 onwards.

Calculating raw scores

The raw scores for each test are calculated by adding the scores from each paper for a subject.

Test Number of marks available in the paper Total number of marks available for the test – highest raw score
English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 1: questions 50 marks 70 marks
English grammar, punctuation and spelling Paper 2: spelling 20 marks
English reading 50 marks 50 marks
Mathematics Paper 1: arithmetic 40 marks 110 marks
Mathematics Paper 2: reasoning 35 marks
Mathematics Paper 3: reasoning 35 marks

Range of scaled scores and the expected standard

KS2 tests are externally marked and marks are returned to schools in the ‘Pupil results’ section of NCA tools. To receive a scaled score, pupils must take each test paper for the subject. For those pupils, schools will receive:

  • a raw score
  • a scaled score (except where a pupil has too few marks to be awarded the lowest scaled score)
  • either ‘NS’ (expected standard not achieved) or ‘AS’ (expected standard achieved)

The range of scaled scores available for each KS2 test is the same as set in 2016 and is intended to stay the same in future years. The lowest scaled score that can be awarded on a KS2 test is 80. The highest scaled score is 120.

Pupils scoring at least a scaled score of 100 will have met the expected standard in the test.

A pupil awarded a scaled score of 99 or less has not met the expected standard in the test.

Pupils need a minimum raw score before they can be awarded the lowest scaled score. Pupils who do not achieve the lowest scaled score on the test have not demonstrated sufficient understanding of the KS2 curriculum in the subject. Where this is the case, the scaled score field for the pupil in the ‘Pupil results’ section of NCA tools will be ‘N’. The outcome of the test for the pupil will be ‘NS’, expected standard not achieved.

Schools can use the test conversion tables to understand the relationship between the raw scores and scaled scores for each test. The conversion tables show that sometimes 2 or more raw scores convert to the same scaled score. This is because data from pupils showed that the attainment of pupils who scored these total marks was not very different.

There are also times when it is not possible to achieve a particular scaled score. This is because of the number of questions in the test, although these scores may be possible on previous or future tests.

Where to get help

Standards and Testing Agency

For general enquiries about national curriculum tests:

Published 9 July 2019