Cover story - November 13, 2017

SATS 'maladministration': Fewer school see results annulled

Investigations into maladministration of SATs tests rose last year, but the number of schools having test results amended or annulled fell, according to the latest report by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA).

In their 2016 maladministration report, the STA detail the numbers, sources and types of allegations of maladministration reported to them throughout the 2016 test cycle across Key Stage 1 (KS1) – including the phonics screening check - and Key Stage 2 (KS2). ‘Maladministration’ refers to any act that could jeopardise the ‘integrity, security or confidentiality’ of the tests, and could lead to results that “do not reflect the unaided abilities and achievements of pupils”. This could include pupils cheating, test papers being incorrectly opened or ‘over-aiding’ of pupils by test administrators. The STA, an executive agency of the Department for Education (DfE), has a statutory duty to investigate any matter brought to its attention concerning maladministration.

Following investigation, if the STA finds the accuracy or correctness of a pupil’s test results is in doubt they decide whether to amend or annul results.

The report found that the number of investigations into maladministration at KS1 rose from 60 to 94 (including 17 related to the phonics screening test), and KS2 investigations dropped from 456 to 430. Therefore there was a small increase in the number of investigations overall in 2016 compared to 2015, from 516 to 524. However, the number of schools seeing results amended or annulled dropped in comparison to 2015, at both KS1 (from 3 to 2 – both of which related to the phonics screening test) and KS2 (from 78 to 65). Of these 65, five schools had the results of a whole cohort annulled for at least one subject.

The largest number of allegations at both KS1 and KS2 concerned teachers over-aiding pupils. At KS1 the next largest single group of allegations concerned test packs being wrongly opened. At KS2, the second largest single group related to unauthorised test timetable variation. Other types of allegation included inappropriate storing of tests, incorrect papers being given to pupils, classroom displays not being covered and pupils cheating.

The reports of maladministration which the STA investigated came from a range of sources, with almost half self-reported by schools (48.7 per cent). Local authorities reported 18.1 per cent of cases. Other sources of reports included parents, teacher informers, teachers from other schools, and anonymous reports.

Read the full report at

Cover story - November 6, 2017

KS2 tests - review requests decrease and fewer succeed

Fewer schools asked for Key Stage 2 (KS2) tests to be remarked in 2017 than 2016, and there were fewer reviews in total, but more than 24,000 review requests were still made overall. The percentage of reviews which were successful also dropped, according to newly released statistics.

The report, published by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA), looked at the number of reviews requested for KS2 tests in English reading, English grammar, punctuation and spelling, and mathematics, and the outcomes of those reviews. It found that review applications were made for 1.4 per cent of total tests taken at KS2 - 24,657 reviews in all - down from 1.9 per cent in 2016. The highest proportion of review applications was made for English reading, at 2.6 per cent of the tests taken, down from 3.8 per cent in 2016. The mathematics test had the fewest review applications, 0.5 per cent of tests taken, a decrease from 0.7 per cent in 2016. In the English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests 1.1 per cent were reviewed, compared to 1.2 per cent in 2016.

Overall, 8.5 per cent of review applications were successful in 2017.

The STA defined a review as successful if it resulted in a change to whether a pupil achieved the expected standard or not, or a change of 3 or more marks to the raw score. The highest proportion of successful reviews was for the mathematics test, with 10.5 per cent of applications successful, however this was down from 12.6 per cent in 2016. The percentage of successful reviews was also down in English grammar, punctuation and spelling (from 12 to 10.3 per cent) and in English reading (from 8.6 to 7.4 per cent). Across all subjects successful reviews made up 0.1 per cent of the total number of tests taken in 2017, compared to 0.2 per cent in 2016.

Full details of the STA report: