Multiplication Tables Check Comparison Data

As ever with such things, it is important to point out that this data is not a scientific sample, has not been verified, and could be completely meaningless. However, in the absence of any comparative data from the DfE, it is an attempt to give some vague indication of the national picture of schools that took part in the MTC sample.

At the time of writing, some 211 sets of data had been submitted to the open spreadsheet online. Because it’s an open spreadsheet, there’s no guarantee that it doesn’t have errors, or that some data hasn’t been damaged, or even completely made up. With that in mind, I have completed some very simple calculations based on the data to give some idea of indicative figures.

Overall Averages

The mean average of all pupils’ results was 18.4

The mean average of all schools’ averages was also 18.4

The following table shows the approximate cut-off points when comparing schools’ averages, to place schools into bands.


Perfect Scores

There was talk at one point of full marks being the expect threshold. It’s no longer clear that this is the case, or even that there will be a pass mark of any sort at all, but within the sample:

Overall proportion scoring 25/25: 17.4%

Bands for proportion scoring 25/25:


Pupil Scores

More pupils did score full marks than any other individual score, with scores clearly more likely to be at the top end of the scale.


School Averages

The majority of schools had an average score of between 16 and 20


Does any of this mean anything? Not really… it’s a tiny sample from a voluntary pilot of a new test with no clear expectations hastily compiled from questionable data. But some of it is at least slightly interesting.

12 thoughts on “Multiplication Tables Check Comparison Data

  1. Tom Burkard 4 July 2019 at 8:43 pm Reply

    I suppose we have to start somewhere, the current allowance of 6 seconds per item is far short of the 1.5 seconds normally considered the maximum response time for an automatic, unmediated response of a single-digit number fact. This will simply encourage the NCETM strategy of practising calculating strategies as opposed to simply memorising the bonds. Price et al (2013) suggest that this still puts sufficient load on working memory to seriously impact on scores on standardised maths tests–see

    This said, one can only hope these results aren’t representative. They are nothing short of a disgrace. Ministers should seriously consider disbanding our Maths Hubs if this is all they are achieving.

    • Rab 4 July 2019 at 10:57 pm Reply

      Have you tried the test yourself Tom?

      • Tom Burkard 5 July 2019 at 1:33 am Reply

        No, but I’ve read all Standards & Testing bumf, and it’s pretty straightforward. I’ve written a bit about the subject–enough to get me on Ofsted’s Maths Advisory Group. The centrality of number bonds to maths isn’t much different than the essential role of decoding skills in literacy.

        • Rab 5 July 2019 at 6:15 am

          Try the test Tom. I promise you’ll find it an interesting experience. There’s what I believe to be an accurate recreation of what the children use available online. Please let us know how you get on 🙂

          For what it’s worth I got 25/25 first time, but the experience was not what I was expecting. Try it and you’ll see what I mean.

  2. Rich 5 July 2019 at 8:25 am Reply

    I had 60 Year 4’s do the test. A) A dreadful experience to set up, particular when I’d have to give a teacher a high level of access to NCA tools and B) no matter what the access arrangements, a child has to read the question, process it, answer it and then (here’s the kicker) type it or click it in.

    They weren’t in tears but they were very frustrated; children with the answers were timed out because they were slow on the keyboard. Another issue with it is that, those doing it on an iPad would be faster than those using a keyboard and/or mouse. However not all schools can afford iPads JUST for a test.

    The test is flawed. And it gave no extra detail to what we knew already. In response to ‘Tom’ – 1.5 seconds is the desired ‘cognitive’ response time. It did not include physical manipulation into a medium; just a spoken answer. This test seriously needs a re-think.

  3. Steve 5 July 2019 at 8:28 am Reply

    Tom, you have to remember, it is not 6 seconds to get the answer. It is to read the question, work out the answer and to put in your answer. We found that the children who had spent more time on things like times table rock stars or using the Gov one in the build up were better. Not because their times tables were better but because they were a lot quicker at entering the answer. I had a number who got the answer but didn’t type it in in time. We have taken what the more successful class did (even though they are the weakest class in the year group) and will apply to the all classes next year.
    Many I know have noticed that although they may be the best year in a long time at times tables, they have become the weakest in other areas of Maths. That is the problem on only testing one thing.

    • Tom Burkard 5 July 2019 at 4:56 pm Reply

      What you say about ‘working out the answer’ is where the NCETM goes wrong–this still detracts from the attention available for solving problems. Reading the question and responding with the correct answer should be automatic–under a second. Putting in the answer takes a bit of practice, but not as much as memorising the number facts themselves. We’ve taught a lot of KS3 pupils number facts using both flashcards and a pencil and paper response, and on a randomised response sheet most can answer a minimum of 40 sums per minute without that much difficulty. Nearly all of them could do 10 responses per minute before we even started.

      I recently had a look at Yr 1 Ark Maths Mastery workbooks at a Norfolk school and I was appalled. Kids had a very high error rates on exercises were the attempt to make them ‘relevant’ added so much extraneous detail that the mathematical content was almost an afterthought.The school has since adopted Connecting Maths Concepts.

      • Steven 5 July 2019 at 6:38 pm Reply

        I really think you should argue about this as you have no experience with children taken i – as you have said above.
        Many schools put effort into times tables but not as much into using the computer to answer.
        The computer is much more time consuming for children than writing an answer with a pencil.

        Sadly, it means teachers have to wait a lot of time training their kids to input answers quickly. This time should be use to develop their knowledge and understanding.

        Yes there is a challenge in schools of teaching knowledge and applying it. Some people higher up hear things and push too much without understanding. It then moves the child too far away from what they should be trying to achieve.
        We have to remember, we are trying to make future mathematicians and scientists not calculators.

        • Steven 5 July 2019 at 6:47 pm

          Should have checked that before posting. Lol
          Sorry for all the mistakes but hopefully you get my point.
          Lots of schools have learnt a lot from this and will do things differently next year – I know we will.
          What worries me is our best class at it (22 out of 28 getting 21 or higher) is the weakest class for maths. This is then supported by other teachers who have said how the focus on times tables has meant their children are weaker in other areas than the norm for that school.

          Not a fan of the test as I don’t see it as a positive step forward.

  4. sarapeden 5 July 2019 at 8:06 pm Reply

    Yes. With all the caveats. Interesting.

  5. infosecretteachercouk 6 July 2019 at 7:20 pm Reply

    This post echoes much of the arguments above:

  6. Glen Brooke-Jones 1 October 2019 at 3:19 pm Reply

    Yep practise at entering the answers is the key with a computer or tablet (sadly).

    Try here if you want to try the test or track pupil progress over the year –

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