Sats: Big fall in number of seven-year-olds reaching expected standards under tougher testing regime

29th September 2016 at 10:07
key stage 1 results
More than a third of Year 2 pupils fail to reach new writing standard and less than three-quarters reach expected level in reading or maths

Fewer than two-thirds of six- and seven-year-olds (65 per cent) have reached the new tougher standard in writing, according to official figures published today.

Nearly three in four (74 per cent) of pupils reached the standard in reading and 73 per cent did so in maths.

Last year 90 per cent of pupils reached what was then the expected standard (level 2) in reading, 88 per cent did so in writing and 93 per cent did so in maths.

Today's statistics are from teacher assessments of around 640,000 six- and seven-year-olds. Although the children take tests in reading and maths, the results do not have to be submitted to the Department for Education. Instead they are used to feed into teacher assessments, which must be reported.

Writing is assessed solely by teacher assessment.

This year's spelling, punctuation and grammar (Spag) test was scrapped after the accidental publication of the test paper.

Gender divide

The statistics also show girls continue to outperform boys in all subjects. 

While 73 per cent of girls reached the new tougher standard in writing, just 59 per cent of boys did – a gap of 14 percentage points. In reading, 78 per cent of girls reached the expected level, compared with 70 per cent of boys. And in maths, 74 per cent of girls reached the expected level, compared with 72 per cent of boys.

It is the first year of the tests, which reflect the new curriculum. Earlier this year, campaigners organised a "parent boycott" – with thousands saying they would take their children out of school for a day in protest at the tests for seven-year-olds.

The results of the phonics test, which is taken by five- and six-year-olds, were also released today and show that 81 per cent of pupils reached the standard at the end of Year 1. In 2015, 77 per cent of pupils reached the expected phonics standard in Year 1. The phonics check consists of asking children to read aloud 40 words, including 20 non-words.

The results of the key stage 2 tests, taken by 10- and 11-year-olds, were published earlier this year. They revealed that just 53 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths after the tougher tests were introduced.

In the previous year, 80 per cent of pupils achieved what was then the expected level 4 in all three subjects.

There has been widespread criticism about the "chaotic" way the new tests were introduced this year – with unions threatening to boycott the Sats next year unless changes are made particularly to the reading test, which left some children in tears.

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