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 children 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.

For KS1 SATs you won't receive your child's actual SATs scores unless you ask for them, but you will be told whether your child is working at the expected standard as part of your child's end-of-KS1 teacher report and assessment.

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 the child has achieved the national standard for that subject. It also allows for comparisons of pupil performance over time as every scaled score represents the same level of attainment, whether a child has taken the test in 2016 or in 2018.

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. 

KS1 SATs scores explained

For KS1 SATs your child's raw SATs score – the actual number of marks they get in the tests – will be translated into a scaled score, where a score of 100 means the child is working at the expected standard. A score below 100 indicates that the child needs more support, whereas a score of above 100 suggests the child is working at a higher level than expected for their age. The maximum score possible is 115, and the minimum is 85.

Teachers are 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.

KS2 SATs scores explained

In KS2, the papers will be marked externally, with no teacher assessment involved. Each child will be awarded a raw score and a scaled score, and receive confirmation of whether or not they achieved the national standard (‘NS’  means the expected standard was not achieved; ‘AS’ means the expected standard was achieved).

Please note that schools are free to report SATs results as they choose, so as a parent you might be given their sclaed score or a code (or both); you are unlikely to be told your child's raw test scores.

The list of KS2 SATs outcome codes in full is:

  • AS: the expected standard has been acheived
  • NS: the expected standard has not been acheived
  • A: the child was absent from one or more of the test papers
  • B: the child is working below the level assessed by KS2 SATs
  • M: the child missed the test
  • T: the child is working at the level of the tests but is unable to access them (because all or part of a test is not suitable for a pupil with particular special educational needs)
The range of scaled scores available for each KS2 test is the same, this year and in future years:
  • 80 is the lowest possible scaled score
  • 120 is the highest possible scaled score
A scaled score of 100 or more means that the child has met the expected standard in each test; a scaled score of 99 or less means they haven't reached the government-expected standard.

In 2016 the average scaled score was above the "expected standard": in reading the average scaled score was 103, in maths it was 103 and in grammar, punctuation and spelling it was 104.

Overall 53% of pupils met the new expected standard in reading, writing (which is teacher-assessed in Year 6) and mathematics.

Teacher-assessment results at the end of Year 6

As well as receiving KS2 SATs results, at the end of Y6 you will be told your child's teacher-assessment results for reading, writing, mathematics and science. The teacher-assessment result codes you can expect to see are:
  • GDS: Working at greater depth within the expected standard (for writing assessment only)
  • EXS: Working at the expected standard
  • WTS: Working towards the expected standard (for writing assessment only)
  • HNM: Has not met the expected standard (reading and maths assessment only)
  • PKG: Pre-key stage, growing development of the expected standard (the child is working at a lower level than expected)
  • PKF: Pre-key stage, foundations for the expected standard (the child is working at a significantly lower level than expected)
  • BLW: The child is working below the pre-key stage standards (the lowest level of attainment)
  • A: Awarded if the child was absent
  • D: Awarded if the child is disapplied (has not been been tested at KS2 level)

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.