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