Understanding scaled scores

Since 2016, the key stage 1 and 2 national curriculum tests (NCTs) have been reported using scaled scores. The key stage 1 (KS1) NCTs have a scaled score ranging from 85 to 115, and the key stage 2 (KS2) NCTs from 80 to 120, with a scaled score of 100 representing the expected standard at the end of the key stage. 

Scaled scores show whether a pupil has met an expected standard or not. This is different to the 100 in a standardised test, where 100 represents the average during the standardisation and gives you information on the proportion of the population who achieved a particular score.

For the NCTs, the score of 100 represents the threshold of the expected standard, not the national average on the test. If a pupil scores 100 or above, they have achieved the expected standard. If they score lower than 100, they have not met the expected standard and are still working towards it. In the case of the national tests, the national average scaled score is likely to be higher than 100, since the government targets are for all pupils to have reached the expected standard by the end of KS2. In 2018, the national average for reading was a scaled score of 105, for maths was a scaled score of 104, and for grammar, punctuation and spelling a scaled score of 106. In total, 64 per cent of pupils reached the new expected standard for reading, writing and maths.

The Standards and Testing Agency (STA) has provided guidance on the scaled scores used in the NCTs. NFER has produced a webinar outlining the differences between raw scores, standardised scores and scaled scores.

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