A few words on the 65% floor standard

There’s been much discussion about this in the last few days, so I thought I’d summarise a few thoughts.

Firstly, many people seem to think that the government will be forced to review the use of a 65% floor standard in light of the fact that only 53% of pupils nationally met the combined requirements. In fact, I’d argue the opposite: the fact that so few schools exceed the attainment element of the floor standard is no bad thing. Indeed, I’d prefer it if no such attainment element existed.

There will be schools for whom reaching 65% combined Reading, Writing & Maths attainment did not require an inordinate amount of work – and won’t necessarily represent great progress. Why should those schools escape further scrutiny just because they had well-prepared intakes? Of course, there will be others who have met the standard through outstanding teaching and learning… but they will have great progress measures too. The 65% threshold is inherently unfair on those schools working with the most challenging intakes and has no good purpose.

That’s why I welcomed the new progress measures. Yes it’s technical, and yes it’s annoying that we won’t have it for another couple of months, but it is a fairer representation of how well a school has achieved in educating its pupils – regardless of their prior attainment.

That said, there will be schools fretting about their low combined Reading, Writing & Maths scores. I carried out a survey immediately after results were released, and so far 548 schools have responded, sharing their combined RWM scores. From that (entirely unscientific self-selecting) group, just 28% of schools had reached the 65% attainment threshold. And the spread of results is quite broad – including schools at both 0% and 100%.

The graph below shows the spread of results with each colour showing a band of 1/5th of schools in the survey. Half of schools fell between 44% and 66%.

Combined attainment

Click to see full-size version

As I said on the day the results were published – for a huge number of schools, the progress measure will become all important this year. And for that, we just have to wait.

Edit:

Since posting, a few people have quite rightly raised the issue of junior/middle schools, who have far less control over the KS1 judgements (and indeed in middle schools, don’t even have control over the whole Key Stage). There are significant issues here about the comparability of KS1 data between infant/first schools and through primary schools (although not necessarily with the obvious conclusions). I do think that it’s a real problem that needs addressing: but I don’t think that the attainment floor standard does anything to address it, so it’s a separate – albeit important – issue.

15 thoughts on “A few words on the 65% floor standard

  1. Rob 8 July 2016 at 6:58 pm Reply

    That’s all great unless you are in a Junior School…

    • Michael Tidd 8 July 2016 at 7:00 pm Reply

      A point I recognise – but isn’t negated by the 65% attainment floor. That’s an issue of consistency at KS1 that needs addressing, regardless of the measures!

  2. Rob 8 July 2016 at 8:37 pm Reply

    Unfortunately I can’t see it being addressed anytime soon. Unless the attainment floor is dropped there will be many junior schools who have escaped in the past by getting beyond the 65% with the usual sea of blue on raise.

  3. Suzanne 8 July 2016 at 11:25 pm Reply

    What about small, rural schools where the percentage carried by each child is extremely high? For example a cohort of 11 pupils, with two or three children with SEN. Many Heads of these schools face continual worry about their data. With the new higher standard, the issue is compounded.

    • Michael Tidd 8 July 2016 at 11:27 pm Reply

      But an attainment threshold doesn’t make that any fairer..

      • Jenny 10 July 2016 at 5:58 am Reply

        We felt better last week, when we thought about finding the average standardised score for all the children who took the tests, interestingly,despite the fact our % were low in reading maths and combined, (the SPAG that doesn’t count was ok), our average for all 3 subjects and combined was above 100. This does reflect the wide range of abilities across the cohort. I think it will be a while before all children can perform at a similar standard.

  4. Jenny 9 July 2016 at 6:25 am Reply

    One day, I would like to think that it is possible to judge a school by the commitment, effort of the teachers, the happiness of the children and the complete trust parents have in a school. Children and teachers are human beings, each one unique, no two schools are the same and no school is perfect. The best schools are ones that are led by people who care and are constantly striving to improve in a variety of ways to educate children to want to learn and get that joy from achieving even the smallest goal. Our combined is not near the floor at all, but I am totally proud of what the Y6 teachers have achieved this year, they are two, young brilliant human beings who deserve to be congratulated, not demoralised. They have taught the children to enjoy success and to recognise the progress they have made and all of the children when given their results were congratulated for trying their best. One boy was delighted, he achieved EXS in all subjects except, Maths, where he missed out by one mark, he is no failure and yet that mark pushed our school below floor. Another child, who has struggled with anxieties since reception, but has been well supported by all her teachers and was diagnosed with Autism this year achieved 100 across the board except for maths, where the test situation got the better of her,; her beaming face whilst telling our learning mentor how proud she was of herself brought a tear to my eye, but statistically we fail. And finally the child who didn’t score at all on her reading paper brought me my ticket to their end of year production yesterday, happy and excited about performing at the local secondary school, thankfully, there were no signs of failure on her face at all, for which I can say I am totally grateful for the support and care and nurturing Y6 team who have provided the children with a brilliant all round education this year…they are already planning next year too, more maths, more reading, more writing and not forgetting, ‘It’s all about the SPAG!’

  5. Geoff 9 July 2016 at 11:45 am Reply

    Another clear-eyed, judicious post. Thank you. The situation re stand alone juniors is a MASSIVE issue & as someone who works in one with an unfortunately unscrupulous ‘partner’ Infant school I’m dreading ‘progress’ measures in Sept. & the continuing additional pressure that will come due to skewered KS1 results from our ‘outstanding’ infants.

  6. Ali B 9 July 2016 at 12:10 pm Reply

    Very helpful info. Thanks. Was relieved to discover our county data falls below the floor standard too.

  7. daveo81 9 July 2016 at 4:20 pm Reply

    I wasn’t frustrated by the maths, writing or reading assessments. The big problem I have has always been with the SPAG test. I wonder how many of the schools have fallen below the 65% or even the national standard because their children made punctuation errors or misspelled words as mine did. I’ve assessed a number of children at the expected level for writing but they were just below the expected level for the SPAG test.
    The data just doesn’t tell us the whole story or each school as Jenny has already pointed out.
    But I agree the progress measures will hopefully become the important thing to look at considering Progress 8 will be going live in Secondary schools next year I think? However, I fear in primary schools it will force more accountability between key stages and probably cause teachers to fall out as we try to moderate between years more keenly. I’m already looking at the year 5 data with skepticism.

    • Michael Tidd 9 July 2016 at 7:01 pm Reply

      The SPAG test doesn’t contribute towards the floor standard, fortunately.

  8. daveo81 9 July 2016 at 7:05 pm Reply

    It doesn’t! That’s the best news I’ve heard this week! Our head and deputy calculated it based on the SPAG result as well. That’ll drive our results up.
    Where is it stated that the SPAG doesn’t contribute to the floor standard? And therefore: what is the point of it?

  9. Michael Tidd 9 July 2016 at 7:12 pm Reply

    No it doesn’t. It’s based on Reading and Maths scores, and Writing TA judgements. See page 6 of the document here:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/496158/Primary_school_accountability_in_2016.pdf

    As for what’s the point of the SPAG test… who knows?

    • daveo81 9 July 2016 at 8:01 pm Reply

      Thanks for this, forwarding on to the leadership at my school….who I feel probably should have known this.

  10. Caseby's Casebook 10 July 2016 at 7:02 am Reply

    Thanks for putting this together. Your work on this is very useful and a regular talking point at the school partnership meeting I chair. You are right to point out the self selected nature of the data but using a volunteer sample isn’t ‘unscientific’, we just need to be aware of the limitations. Your graph looks like a normal curve which suggests that you have a representative sample. Obviously plucking a number out of thin air and making it a ‘floor target’ is a nonsense and progress will show how much schools have moved pupils on. What I can’t get my head round is KS4 – we’ll have a progress measure but based on attainment that is capped because only so many students will be ‘allowed’ each grade.

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