The move to scaled scores was announced as part of the previous government’s response to the consultation on reforming assessment and accountability for primary schools.
Scaled scores are used all over the world. They help test results to be reported consistently from one year to the next. We design national curriculum tests to be as similar as possible year on year, but slight differences in difficulty will occur between years. Scaled scores maintain their meaning over time so that two pupils achieving the same scaled score on two different tests will have demonstrated the same attainment. For example, on our scale 100 will always represent the ‘national standard’. However, due to the small differences in difficulty between tests, the ‘raw score’ (ie the total number of correct responses) that equates to 100 might be different (though similar) each year.
We can’t give full information about what the scale will look like yet. We need to wait until pupils have taken the tests and the tests have been marked before we can set the national standard and the rest of the scale. We can’t set the scale in advance; this cohort is the first that has reached the end of key stage 2 having studied sufficient content from the new national curriculum. If we were to set the scale using data from pupils that had studied the old national curriculum, it is likely it would be incorrect.
We do know the scale will have a lower end point below 100 and an upper end point above 100. Once we have set the national standard we will use a statistical technique called ‘scaling’ to transform the raw score into a scaled score. We will publish this after the first tests have been administered.
The standards underpinning the scale will be maintained as long as there is no large-scale change to what the tests cover. Once the national standard has been set in summer 2016, we will maintain the standard in subsequent years by using a process known as ‘test equating’. When we trial future tests in schools, we also administer a separate ‘anchor test’. This test remains the same over time. It allows us to link scores from one test to another to ensure standards are maintained.