Doy­ouknow your child’s spell­ing age?


OWCANYOU­make sure your chil­dren get the most out of pri­mary school? July’s school re­port will have given you the lat­est in­for­ma­tion on his or her achieve­ments but what can you do if you want to know more?

Li­aise closely with the class teacher and head teacher. Find out your child’s read­ing and spell­ing age, as well as their cur­rent na­tional cur­ricu­lum lev­els in maths, writ­ing and read­ing. How do these com­pare with the child’s po­ten­tial? This is tested by look­ing at ver­bal and non-ver­bal scores. Most schools have this in­for­ma­tion, so do ask for it.

You can also buy timed prac­tice tests but these are tricky to in­ter­pret cor­rectly. If your child has a tu­tor, ask for their pro­fes­sional views.

Once you know your child’s scores, whether na­tional cur­ricu­lum level in writ­ing of 1c, level 4a in maths or a stan­dard­ised score of 114 in spell­ing, the next step is to find out what they ac­tu­ally mean and how they com­pare to oth­ers. If you plan to sit 11-plus ex­ams for se­lec­tive se­condary en­trance, you need to know if your child has a re­al­is­tic chance of pass­ing.

State schools cur­rently use na­tional cur­ricu­lum lev­els and school as­sess­ments — although this is due to change. At both ends of the aca­demic year, each pupil is given a na­tional cur­ricu­lum level in core sub­jects and, based on this, the school will de­cide if chil­dren have made ad­e­quate progress.

An av­er­age child is ex­pected to make two thirds of a na­tional cur­ricu­lum level progress from year to year. Each level is sub-di­vided into a, b or c, with “a” the high­est. By the end of key stage one, an av­er­age child will score 2b and by the end of key stage two (year six), an av­er­age child will score 4b.

Stan­dard­ised scor­ing is another type of test­ing and as­sess­ment, of­ten used for read­ing and spell­ing. Your own child’s score can be com­pared with a large, na­tion­ally rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple who have taken the same test.

A stan­dard­ised score is cal­cu­lated by tak­ing the child’s raw score from the test and ap­ply­ing a for­mula based on their age at the time of test­ing. Their score is com­pared with other pupils of the same age. The scores are weighted to elim­i­nate the dis­ad­van­tages of be­ing a summer baby and the ad­van­tages of be­ing an older, win­ter baby within each co­hort of chil­dren.

A na­tional av­er­age score for any stan­dard­ised test is 100, so if your child scores more, he or she is above av­er­age. Most re­sults are in the range 70 to 141. For many en­trance ex­ams, schools look for scores above 115, while top gram­mar and pri­vate schools usu­ally ex­pect scores of 130-plus.

Some tests are scored as a per­centile rank. This is the per­cent­age of pupils in the sam­ple who gained the same level or below that of your child’s score. So if your child’s per­for­mance is at the 75th per­centile, they will have per­formed as well as, or bet­ter than 75 per cent of the sam­ple, tak­ing age into ac­count. It also means that they are in the top 25 per cent in the coun­try.

Start to think about se­condary schools as early as year three, to give you time to at­tend open days and to find a good tu­tor, if you need one to pre­pare for en­trance ex­ams.

It is very im­por­tant to un­der­stand how well your child is learn­ing in re­la­tion to their po­ten­tial. Only with this knowl­edge can you judge if the school is ad­dress­ing their needs. Po­ten­tial is not al­ways tested at schools but an ed­u­ca­tional con­sul­tant will be able to as­sess it. Start gath­er­ing data on your child early, so that you can of­fer the best sup­port through­out their pri­mary years and on to se­condary school.

Year three is not too early to plan for 11-plus ex­ams


Stan­dard­ised scores will help you com­pare your child with oth­ers

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