The Year 6 reading test earlier this year left pupils in tears – and now the results have been published, the reaction from headteachers has been one of shock and anger.
The statistics show that just 66 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard. The government is keen to stress that, as it is the first time these tests have been taken, the results cannot be compared with previous years. In 2015, 89 per cent of 10- and 11-year-old children left primary with the expected level 4 in reading and 80 per cent had reached level 4b, the standard that the government had said would be equivalent to the new tests.
But it was not only the fact that fewer children achieved the expected standard in reading that shocked headteachers. Another concern was that reading results were lower than those for writing, spelling, punctuation and grammar or maths.
It really is unusual for children to do better in writing than in reading.
And the raw score pass marks simply underlined the concern over reading – just 21 marks out of 50 (42 per cent) were needed to pass, compared with 60 out of 110 (55 per cent) in maths and 43 out of 70 (61 per cent) in spelling, punctuation and grammar.
On the TES community forums there was dismay.
One teacher said: "Thank you for sharing this. 53% combined nationally is a shocker. This assessment cycle has been a joke."
Another commenter said: "Ours will bring down the national average. Maths – OK, Spag – iffy, reading – oh bum! Not a pleasant atmosphere here today. We were up in the high 80s last year but down a long way this year."
But the question for many headteachers now is the impact of these results on children, their parents and schools, and whether that impact is fair. The NAHT headteachers' union is calling for the results to be scrapped.
But the DfE is insisting on taking an optimistic view of today's results.
The full results are due to be published on 1 September.
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