There has been a significant rise in the number of cases of potential SATs maladministration, according to the latest data from the government agency responsible for investigating them. According to the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) there was an increase in the number of KS1 and KS2 maladministration investigations in 2018 compared to 2017, from 599 to 793. This follows a previous rise from 524 investigations in 2016. The STA has a statutory duty to investigate any matter brought to its attention concerning the accuracy of results of KS1 and KS2 national curriculum tests and assessments, including the phonics screening check. They investigate any concerns in partnership with local authorities (LAs).

The term 'maladministration' refers to any act that could jeopardise the integrity, security or confidentiality of the national curriculum assessments and could lead to results that do not reflect the unaided abilities of pupils. This can include actions such as test papers being incorrectly opened, pupils cheating, or over-aiding of pupils by test administrators. As well as an increase in the overall number of investiagtions, there was also a rise in the number of cases resulting in amendments or annulment of results, from 19 to 21 cases at KS1, and from 78 to 122 cases at KS2.

The largest number of allegations at both KS1 and KS2 was of a test administrator over-aiding pupils – this made up 33 per cent of investigations overall.  Among the other allegations were inappropriate storage of tests, tests being administered early and changes being made to papers in another hand. Potential cases of maladministration are reported to the STA from a variety of sources. Across both KS1 and KS2, schools self-reported 48 per cent of cases. LAs reported 16 per cent of cases, which included those reported following LA monitoring visits.

The full STA report can be found at:

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