Lower results not a cause for concern

1st September 2006 at 01:00
Not enough seven-year-olds reached Government standards for literacy and numeracy but academics and consultants say parents should not be worried.

Key stage 1 results, released last week, were down by a percentage point across English, maths and science compared with last year.

Unlike key stage 2, schools do not have to publish their KS1 results and there is no specific government target for the number of pupils achieving a certain level, although the accepted benchmark for seven-year-olds is level 2.

Reading levels fell for the first time since the assessment began in 1998 when 80 per cent of pupils gained level 2.

It was the first time writing levels declined since 2003 when the test was changed significantly to incorporate spelling.

The number of children gaining level 2 in maths fell for the first time since 2002, although the figure has remained almost static at 90-91 per cent since 2000.

But Barbara Conridge, chairwoman of the National Association for the Teaching of English primary committee, said: "I am absolutely sure standards have not gone down.

"This is the second year of teacher assessment and they make more realistic judgments. Children can creep over a grade boundary by one point in an exam but if teachers don't think it is a fair reflection of what that child can do they will change the grade."

Dylan Wiliam, deputy director of London university's Institute of Education, said: "Nobody should be worried. There was a sharp improvement in the early days of this assessment but the government has now grabbed all the low-hanging fruit.

"The trend is that things are basically flat. It's going to be really hard to improve standards from here."

But Paul Wagstaff, director of the National Primary Strategy said although the results were disppointing, he believed they would rise next year.

"The aggregate national results remain very high despite this slight decrease. The renewal of the primary framework for literacy and maths and the implementation of Jim Rose's recommendations will put the spotlight firmly on the quality and learning in key stage 1."

Dylan Wiliam said teachers must avoid teaching to the test and get children to think at a deeper level about their own learning to improve standards.

Sue Palmer, a literacy consultant, said: "We should be thrilled that the results are down. It shows teachers are brave enough to make their own judgments in spite of growing pressure to constantly improve."


Key stage 1: Percentage of children reaching level 2 or above

Reading 84

Percentage of girls 89

Percentage of boys 80

Writing 81

Percentage of girls 87

Percentage of boys 76

Maths 90

Percentage of girls 92

Percentage of boys 89

Science 89

Percentage of girls 91

Percentage of boys 88

Key stage 2: Percentage of pupils reaching level 4 or above

English 79

Percentage of girls 85

Percentage of boys 74

Reading 83

Percentage of girls 87

Percentage of boys 79

Writing 67

Percentage of girls 75

Percentage of boys 59

Maths 76

Percentage of girls 75

Percentage of boys 77

Science 87

Percentage of girls 87

Percentage of boys 86

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