SATs Scores Explained For KS2 and KS1 Parents: Everything You Need To Know About Your Child’s SATs Results

As a parent, without having the SATs scores explained (KS2 & KS1), it can be difficult to know whether to celebrate or commiserate when you’re told what your child achieved in their primary school tests.

Terms like “scaled score”, “expected standard” and “national standard” are dotted throughout the information that comes with SATs results. If all of this has you scratching your head, then worry not as we are here to explain the KS1 and KS2 SATs scores for you!

How are SATs marked?

Sats papers are marked differently depending on whether your child is in Key Stage 1 (Year 2), or in Key Stage 2 (Year 6) when they sit them.

How are SATs marked in KS1?

In Year 2, your child will sit official SATs in English and Maths.

They are then marked by the class teacher. However, a small number of papers from the school may be sent to the local education authority to be moderated. This is purely to assess the quality and consistency of the marking as opposed to the work done by your child.

How are SATs marked in KS2?

In Year 6 your child will sit SATs in Maths, English Reading, English Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling.

These exams are marked in a different manner to the Year 2 SATs, as these papers are marked externally. Your child may also sit a science SAT, but these tests are only given to 10,000 schools to assess national standards at KS2, and they are teacher assessed in most schools.

Want to know more? Read our Parents Guide: What Are SATs?.

When and how will I get the SATs results?

Your child’s school will have received the provisional results for both the schools performance and your child’s individual performance by the end of July.

At this stage the results are only provisional, as they are subject to additional checking by schools and teachers.

KS1 SATs Results (Year 2)

In Year 2 you are unlikely to be given your child’s KS1 SATs results unless you ask for them. However, you will be told whether or not your child is working at the expected standard as part of the teacher report that is presented at the end of KS1.

KS2 SATs Results (Year 6) 

Once the final Year 6 SATs results are confirmed, it is up to your child’s school to decide how they give out the results of individual tests to parents.

Most schools will normally send out an individual child’s results with the end of year report, but this is on the condition that the results have come back to them by the end of term.

National Year 6 SATs Results

The following results and league tables are all published in December:

  • The national SATs results
  • The Local Authority SATs results
  • Individual school SATs results

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KS2 SATS Results 2019

Here are the most recent National SATs results from 2019.

  • 65% of pupils met the expected standard in reading, writing and maths combined.
  • 73% of pupils achieved the expected standard in reading
  • 78% of pupils achieved the expected standard in writing. 
  • 79% of pupils achieved the expected standard in mathematics
  • 78% of pupils achieved the expected standard in Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (GPS)

Comparison National SATs Results from 2016 to 2019

SATs Results 2019 Government Announcement
Source: Final KS2 data (2016 – 2018), Interim KS2 data (2019) https://www.gov.uk/

What you need to know about the SATs results of one year compared to another

The National SATs results record the percentage of pupils nationally who have met ‘the expected standard’ in the subject. This means they have achieved a scaled score of 100 or more. See below for more information on these.

School SATs results are much more variable than national results, so it’s not uncommon to see a drop or a rise of 30 or 40 points in percentage terms from one year to the next. If you think about it, just 3 children fewer out of a class of 30 achieving the expected standard from one year to the next will mean 10% fewer have passed their SATs that year. And inevitably there are differences between cohorts in a school.

You may also see wide variation between scores in different subjects at a school. This is why the ‘combined SATs score’ measure was introduced. It aims to ensure that schools are looked at for their success ‘in the round’ not just in their ability to get 100% of their children to reach expected standard in Maths.

What do the SATs scores mean?

When attempting to understand SATs scores, one source of confusion for many parents is the change that took place for the 2016 SATs.

Since 2016, the National Curriculum levels that were used to score SATs papers have been replaced by Scaled SATs scores.

This scoring method is used for school assessments in countries all around the world, and it is seen as a fair method to use when looking at test results as it allows for differences in the difficulty of tests on a year by year bases, which in turn allows different cohort’s results to be compared.

How does scaled scoring work? – SATs scores explained for KS2 and KS1 Parents

To begin, your child will receive a raw score and this is simply the actual number of marks they achieved in their SATs.

Then, their raw score is converted into a scaled score and this is used to judge how well your child has done in their SATs paper.

There is a range of scaled scores available for both the KS1 and KS2 SATs.

In KS1, 85 is the lowest score available, and 115 the highest.

In KS2, 80 is the lowest and 120 is the highest score your child could get.

SATs scores explained KS2
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What is a good SATs score?

Scaled scoring can often leave parents wondering whether or not their child has attained a good score in their SATs, but the system is actually quite simple to understand once the KS1 and KS2 SATs scores have been explained.

SATs scores for KS1

115 – This is the highest score a child can get in the KS1 SATs.

101-114 – Any score above 100 (including 115) means that a child has exceeded the expected standard in the test.

100 – This is the expected standard for children.

85-99 – Any child that is awarded a scaled score of 99 or below has not met the expected standard in the their KS1 SATs test.

For more information, take a look at the official government guidance on scaled scores at KS1.

SATs scores for KS2

120 – This is the highest score a child can get in the KS2 SATs.

101-119 – Any score above 100 (including 120) means that a child has exceeded the expected standard in the test.

100 – This is the expected standard for children.

80-99 – Any child that is awarded a scaled score of 99 or below has not met the expected standard in their KS2 SATs test.

For more information, take a look at the official government guidance on scaled scores at KS2.

KS1 SATs scores explained for parents

In KS1, your child will receive a scaled score detailing their achievements in the SATs.

If your child receives a scaled score of 100, it means that they are working at the expected standard.

If your child receives a scaled score of 100 or more, it means that they are working above the expected standard.

If however your child receives a scaled score of 99 or less, it means that they are working below the expected standard and may need some additional help in maths, or English.

Something to be aware of is the fact that teachers are given conversion tables to convert your child’s raw score into a scaled score, and they will then be able to use this data to inform their teacher assessment. This could result in the score your child is given in their report not purely reflecting their SATs score, but having it also influenced by classwork and teacher observations.

KS2 SATs scores explained for parents

In Year 6, SATs papers are marked externally, and teachers are not involved in the assessment.

Your child will again receive a raw score, a scaled score and an indication of whether or not they are working at the expected standard. You are unlikely to see your child’s raw score, but you will be likely to see their scaled score and a code that indicates the outcome of their test.

The KS2 outcomes codes that you may see are:

  • AS: This means that your child has achieved the expected standard
  • NS: This means that your child has not achieved the expected standard
  • A: This means that your child was absent from one or more of the test papers
  • B: This means that your child is working below the level assessed by the KS2 SATs
  • M: This means that your child missed the test
  • T: This means that your child is working at the level of the tests, but is unable to access them (this could be due to all or part of a test not being suitable for a child with particular special educational needs)

Year 6 teacher assessment results explained for parents

In addition to the KS2 SATs results, your child will also get teacher assessment results for reading, writing, mathematics and science. You may see some codes that you are unfamiliar with on this report, but the main ones you can expect to see are:

  • GDS: Your child is working at greater depth within the expected standard. This is for writing assessments only.
  • EXS: Your child is working at the expected standard.
  • WTS: Your child is working towards the expected standard.
  • HNM: Your child has not met the expected standard. This is used for reading and maths assessments only.
  • PKG: This stands for pre-key stage, growing development of the expected standard. This means that your child is working at a level lower than expected.
  • PKF: This stands for pre-key stage, foundations for the expected standard. This means that your child is working at a level that is significantly lower than the expected.
  • BLW: Your child is working below the pre-key stage standards which is the lowest level of attainment.
  • A: This is what you will see if your child was absent.
  • B: This is what you will see if your child is disapplied. This means that they have not been tested at the KS2 level.

Something to be aware of is the fact that your child’s school may have other acronyms that they use in their reports. If there are any terms that you are unaware of when your recieve the end of year report at KS2, do not hesitate to ask a teacher as they will be more than happy to clear up any confusion you may have.

What do secondary schools do with SATs results?

Secondary schools are told the scaled SATs scores of their incoming pupils, and they often use them to stream children coming into Year 7. This will vary from school to school, so it is worth checking whether your child’s new school does this.

Some secondary schools also use a combination of SATs scores and their own internal tests to stream students, so this is something to be aware of should you be looking to give your child a boost in their mathematical confidence before the transition to secondary school.

What happens in the other primary school years?

In Years 1, 3, 4 and 5 your child will not sit any type of SATs (other than some practice papers). This means that they will not receive a scaled score and will be evaluated by a schools own internal grading system. For most schools this will likely be measured on expected levels, with your child being either at the expected level or above/below the expected level.

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How can you help your child to get the best SATs results possible?
Here at Third Space Learning we know that preparing for the SATs can be a daunting prospect for both you and your child, but the good news is, it doesn’t have to be…

By getting SATs tutoring for your child, whether that be in KS1 or KS2, you will be giving them the best chance to achieve and get the grades you know they can.

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Ellie Williams
Ellie Williams
With a love for all things KS2 maths, Ellie is a part of the content team that helps all of the Third Space Learning blogs and resources reach teachers!
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