A handy guide to scaled & standardised scores

Cerys Hadwin-Owen

Cerys Hadwin-Owen is an assessment publisher at RS Assessment from Hodder Education, creating assessment resources for schools and enjoying every moment! RS Assessment from Hodder Education has over 40 years’ experience providing assessment resources for schools, and over that time a lot has changed.

Website: www.rsassessment.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Image credit: Flickr // Alberto G. Image credit: Flickr // Alberto G.

With so many different assessment measures being used throughout Primary schools, we’re often asked to clarify the difference between them. So, we’ve gone back to the drawing board to provide some quick facts about two key test outcomes: scaled scores and standardised scores (because while both show performance, they aren’t the same thing).

What does a scaled score of 100 in the SATs mean?

The national tests (or SATs) scaled score threshold of 100 is set in advance, and represents what the DfE consider to be the “expected standard” that each pupil should achieve at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.

How many marks does a pupil need to achieve a scaled score of 100?

The raw score (or number of marks) required to achieve a scaled score of 100 in the national tests is set by the DfE after the national tests have been taken, and is subject to change each year.

So what is a standardised score?

Standardised scores are based on the performance of a nationally-representative sample of at least 1000 pupils taking the same test at a particular time, and therefore do not change over time. This is unlike the raw score required to achieve a scaled score of 100 each year, which is modified by the government.

What does a standardised score of 100 mean?

A standardised score of 100 represents the exact average achievement within the standardisation sample. However, a wider band is usually given to help schools understand a broader representation of the average. This is usually based on what statisticians refer to as ‘standard deviation’ from the mean average. For example, in our PiRA and PUMA tests, we recommend using 94-114 as the average performance.

Why are standardised tests helpful?

Standardised tests enable teachers to benchmark pupil progress and attainment against a national average. They also help to identify pupil strengths and weaknesses across the curriculum, which in turn informs teaching.

Can I use standardised tests to make judgements about pupils’ learning?

Yes, but standardised scores should be used alongside teacher judgement, rather than instead of it (after all, you’re the experts on your own class - standardised tests exist to back up what you already know).

Can I compare scaled scores with standardised scores?

There is no relationship between scaled scores and standardised scores without specific research undertaken by the test publishers. They are entirely different measures. We offer a correlation between the two scores, which help teachers to see how performance in our standardised tests is likely to translate into a scaled score in the national tests.

Find out about our PiRA correlation here, and PUMA correlation here.

FREE samples of standardised tests

Take a closer look at what our standardised tests look like by downloading a free sample of PiRA (Progress in Reading Assessment), PUMA (Progress in Understanding Mathematics Assessment) or GAPS (Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling Assessment).

If you’d like to ask any other questions about either scaled scores or standardised scores, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch via Twitter (www.twitter.com/RSAssessment) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/RSAssessment). Alternatively, visit www.rsassessment.com for more information.

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