Changes to the SATs and what you need to know
Firstly, the tests see the final removal of levels, with scores being given as a scaled score for each subject instead; 100 will represent ‘the expected standard’.
In maths, the major change is the introduction of an arithmetic paper in lieu of the old mental mathematics test. The arithmetic paper will have 35–40 questions, most of which will be worth one mark, requiring use of discrete arithmetic skills ranging from basic addition and subtraction to calculations with fractions. The questions are all in the form of calculations – there are no words. At 40 marks, this paper will make up just over one-third of the total available marks, further emphasising the focus on number and calculations in the new curriculum. Importantly, for multiplication and division questions involving larger numbers, two marks are available. However, only the standard methods of long multiplication and division will be worthy of any credit if the final answer is incorrect; other methods will be ignored. Time is critical in this paper, with 30 minutes to answer the questions; less than one minute per mark.
The second and third papers will be of the more familiar reasoning-type question, with 35 marks available in each test paper to cover the full range of abilities. Calculators cannot be used with any of the papers.
So, what is a scaled score?
Using scaled scores enables test results to be reported consistently from one year to the next. Scaled scores, however, maintain their meaning over time, so if two children achieve the same scaled score on two different tests, they will have demonstrated the same attainment. In the new scaled score for the national tests, 100 will always represent the ‘national standard’, but the ‘raw score’ (the total number of correct answers) that equates to it may be slightly different each year.
When will we know what 100 means?
The scaled score cannot be set in advance; the national standard and the rest of the scale will be set once pupils have taken the tests and they have been marked.
If a child scores below 100, the are working below the expected standard for the end of Key Stage 2.
If a child scores 100-109, the are working at the expected standard for the end of Key Stage 2.
If a child scores 110 or above, the are working above the expected standard for the end of Key Stage 2.