Year 6 tests reveal a decline in reading standards: Sats results 2023

Reading proficiency has declined among Year 6 pupils in England following a contentious Sats paper that some teachers and parents regarded as excessively challenging.

In an effort to achieve the expected level, scoring was moderated to require fewer marks.

However, despite this adjustment, fewer pupils were able to attain the expected level in 2023 compared to 2022.

In other individual subjects, standards either improved or remained unchanged.

However, when considering the combined levels of reading, writing, and math, they are still lower compared to the pre-Covid period.

In the current year, a total of 59% of pupils attained the expected level across the three subjects of reading, writing, and math, in contrast to 65% in 2019.

The government’s goal is for 90% of children to achieve the expected standards in reading, writing, and math upon leaving primary school by 2030.

The results indicate that 73% of pupils achieved the expected standards in reading, a decrease from the previous year’s figure of 75% in 2022.

Concerns were expressed regarding the length and complexity of this year’s reading paper, which the BBC was the first to review, raising questions about its content.

One particular question posed to 10 and 11-year-olds inquired about finding a word similar to “eat” within a passage that included both “consume” and “feeding.” Interestingly, the mark scheme considered both “consume” and “feeding” as acceptable answers.

The scoring system for this year’s reading paper indicates that it was more challenging compared to the previous year. To meet the expected level, only 24 marks were required, as opposed to 29 marks in 2022.

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The Standards and Testing Agency considered the relative difficulty of the reading paper to be appropriate.

According to the Department for Education (DfE), their tests undergo a three-year development process, and this year’s papers were trialed with approximately 1,000 pupils.

Victoria Williams, the parent of Georgina, expressed the expectation of disappointment, as her daughter was unable to complete the Year 6 Sats reading paper. Georgina discovered on Tuesday morning that she scored 108 in reading, surpassing the 100-mark threshold for expected standards but falling short of the “magic” 110 score her school had deemed attainable for her.

Georgina’s mother anticipates that she will inevitably feel disappointed, especially considering her distress on the day she took the test. The recruitment manager, residing in Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, revealed that Georgina described the paper as “awful” and even tearfully endured the test.

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