Understanding SATs results

Group of schoolgirls
How are SATs marked, when will you see your child’s results and what do the marks mean? Moira Holden explains everything you need to know about the Y2 and Y6 SATs results.

Once the exams are over and your child has settled back into everyday school life, it can be easy to forget about SATs – until results day! We answer your questions about how the papers are marked and how secondary schools use the results. 

How are SATs marked?

English and maths papers completed by pupils at the age of seven (Key Stage 1, Year 2) are marked by the class teacher. Some papers may be sent to the local education authority (LEA) to be moderated to make sure marking is consistent. Science is teacher-assessed only.  
In contrast, all papers taken at Key Stage 2 by youngsters at the age of 11 in English (reading and punctuation, spelling and grammar) and maths are marked externally. A test in science is also carried out in 10,000 schools to assess national standards at Key Stage 2, but in the majority of schools science is teacher-assessed.

SATs are updated and revised regularly; find out about the format of this year's SATs in our parents' guides to KS1 SATs in 2016 and KS2 SATs in 2016.

When and how will I get the results?

Schools receive their provisional overall results for the school and individual pupils by the end of July. It’s down to each school to decide how they give individual pupils' results to parents. Many schools send a sheet of results home with the child, if the marks come through before the end of term.

National, local authority and individual schools' results are published in December.

What are the SATs levels?

In recent years, children's SATs results were given as National Curriculum levels, on a scale of 1 to 6.

The national average was level 2b for KS1 SATs, and level 4b for KS2 SATs. Children who achieved level 5 or 6 at the end of Year 6 were performing significantly above average.

SATs results were presented to parents in this format, using National Curriculum levels, until July 2015.

What do the 2016 SATs results mean?

From 2016, National Curriculum levels have been abolished. Instead, children will be given scaled SATs scores.

This scoring method is widely used for school assessments across the world. To calculate a child's scaled score, their raw score – in other words, the actual number of marks they achieved – will be converted into a scaled score. This is used to show whether te child has achieved the national standard for that subject. The scaled score needed to achieve the national standard has yet to be announced, but for Year 2 it will be roughly equivalent to a level 2b under the old system, while the standard for Year 6 will be similar to a level 4b.

In the past, there was a separate Level 6 SATs paper that only the highest-achieving children were entered for. This separate paper will no longer be set, but the tests taken by every KS2 child will have questions that are designed to allow the higher-attaining pupils to show their strengths. 

In KS1, teachers will be given conversion tables to translate their pupils' raw scores into scaled scores. They'll then use these scores to inform their teacher assessment. This means that the score that your child is given may not be the result they achieved in their SATs, but a score based on SATs results, classwork and the teacher's observations.

In KS2, the papers will be marked externally, with no teacher assessment involved. Each child will be told their raw score, their scaled score, and confirmation of whether or not they achieved the national standard.

How are SATs results used by secondary schools?

Year 7 teachers will be told their incoming pupils' SATs scaled scores. Some use these results to stream new starters in Year 7, so you need to find out if your child’s new school does this. Others may use a combination of SATs results and Year 7 CATs (Cognitive Ability Tests) or their own internal tests at the beginning of the new term.  

What results are expected in Y1, Y3, Y4 and Y5?

In the no-SATs years, children won't be allocated National Curriculum levels or a scaled score. Instead, schools will be able to set their own grading system. In most schools, this is likely to be measured as working towards expected levels, working at expected levels, or working above expected levels, although the wording may differ.