This year's Sats results showed "considerable variation" between local authorities – with the greatest difference being seen in reading scores, according to Department for Education figures published today.
In reading, local authority results ranged from 52 per cent of pupils reaching the expected standard to 81 per cent. In writing, they ranged from 58 per cent to 84 per cent.
The pattern is different from last year when there was less variation between reading and writing results than there was between the maths and spelling, punctuation and grammar results. The DfE said this was "due to a small number of local authorities with more extreme values".
The statistics also show that 5 per cent of pupils reached a high standard in reading, writing and mathematics, defined as a scaled score of 110 in the tests, where 100 is the expected standard.
They also show that 57 per cent of girls achieved the expected standard in all three subjects, compared with 50 per cent of boys.
The local authority results come after the national results were published earlier this year. These revealed that just 53 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard in reading, writing and maths. In 2015, 80 per cent of pupils achieved level 4, which was then the expected standard, in all three subjects.
This year, just 66 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard in the reading test, compared with 74 per cent in writing, which is teacher-assessed. In the spelling, punctuation and grammar test, 72 per cent of pupils reached the expected standard and 70 per cent did so in maths.
Reading test 'too difficult'
The fact that more pupils have reached the expected standard in writing than in reading is very unusual.
The scores have prompted the NAHT headteachers’ union to call for the performance tables to be suspended this year, amid fears that there have been wide variations in the way writing is moderated – and that the reading test was too difficult.
In previous years, pupils were told they had achieved a certain level, where level 4 was the expected level. This year, pupils were given a scaled score between 80 and 120, where 100 was the expected standard.
The statistics show that the average scaled score in reading was 103; in spelling, punctuation and grammar it was 104; and in maths it was 103.
The DfE published the provisional national results in July on the same day that schools received their pupils’ results. The department emphasised that as the expected standard had been raised, it was not correct to make direct comparisons between years. It said that further advice on how to interpret the results over time might be available on September 1.
Schools have been told they must reach the floor standard or will face forced academisation. A school is above the floor standard if at least 65 per cent of its pupils have met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths, or the school achieves sufficient progress in reading, writing and maths.
School standards minister Nick Gibb said of today's figures: “These figures show that many schools and local authorities have risen to the challenge and have delivered high standards but we want that success to be the standard everywhere.
"We have made great strides with over 1.4 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, but the government’s objective is to extend that opportunity so every child has the excellent education they deserve.”
Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow TES on Twitter and like TES on Facebook