Performance data glossary

Pupil performance data is full of technical terms and acronyms. Keep our performance data glossary on hand to help you decode your data reports, with a downloadable version to share with new governors.

Last reviewed on 31 May 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 35856
  1. Technical terms
  2. Attainment measures
  3. Progress measures
  4. Pupil characteristics
  5. Downloadable version

Technical terms

Common terms and acronyms you run into when reviewing performance data.

Term Meaning
Attainment The results that pupils achieve as measured in assessments and examinations (e.g. Key Stage 2 (KS2) SATS results). Attainment results are usually defined as grades, scores or levels achieved by pupils
Progress Pupils' achievements over a period of time, for example from KS2 to KS4. Progress is measured by comparing a pupil's current attainment with their previous attainment relative to other pupils with similar starting points (see progress score below)
Adjusted score (at KS2) A pupil's progress score at the end of KS2 can be 'adjusted' in a small number of cases. This is because some progress scores can be disproportionately negative and can distort the overall picture of a school's progress score. To avoid this, these low pupil scores are adjusted to a minimum progress score 
Average KS2 score (previously known as 'estimated' score) The anticipated scores that pupils will achieve in KS2 SATs based on their prior attainment at KS1. The estimated score for a pupil will be the same as for other pupils who achieved the same KS1 attainment
Raw score  The total number of marks a pupil gets on a National Curriculum test before any adjustments – a pupil's raw score is then converted into a 'scaled score' 
Scaled score

A pupil's 'raw score' in the test is converted into a scaled score that's adjusted to account for the variation in difficulty of tests – the number of raw score marks needed to achieve a scaled score of 100 one year will be different from the number needed in another year. Converting to scaled scores makes it possible to accurately compare performance over time

Combined measure  The percentage of pupils in a school meeting a standard across all 3 primary subjects - reading, writing and maths:
  • % meeting expected standard: scaled score of 100 or higher in reading and maths and teacher-assessed as reaching the 'expected standard' or working at 'greater depth' in writing
  • % achieving a higher standard: scaled score of 110 or more in reading and maths and teacher-assessed as working at 'greater depth' in writing
Progress score

A pupil's progress score at KS2 is the difference between their actual KS2 result and their estimated KS2 score (see 'average KS2 score' above) for a subject. This gives an indication of whether the pupil has made below or above average progress relative to other pupils with similar starting points. A pupil's progress score is calculated for the sole purpose of calculating the school's overall progress score (see progress measures below)

Prior attainment A pupil's attainment level at an earlier key stage, often used to measure progress. For example, pupils are sorted into 'prior attainment groups' based on what they achieved at the end of KS1. Each prior attainment group has an estimated KS2 score
Expected standard The expected standard is what the average pupil is expected to achieve in an assessment – for example at KS2 it's a scaled score of 100 (in a subject) and in KS1 teacher assessments it's meeting specific descriptors
Greater depth

A pupil has mastered a subject at the expected standard and can now delve deeper into that subject. Standards for 'greater depth' depend on subject and key stage - e.g. teacher assessment framework at the end of KS1 and teacher assessment frameworks at the end of KS2

Average point score (APS) Used in KS1 to sort pupils into prior attainment groups and determine their 'average' scores for KS2. It's calculated by working out an average score for English (reading and writing) and giving this equal weight alongside mathematics
Value added measure Where pupils’ results are compared with the actual achievements of other pupils nationally with similar prior attainment in order to measure the value added by individual schools
Confidence interval

The upper and lower range of a score meant to take account of variation, or 'natural uncertainty', in the results. In practice this means, for example:

  • If you have a KS2 progress score above 0 but the lower range limit is below 0, it means that your progress score is not significantly different than the national average (which is 0)
  • If you have a KS2 progress score above 0 and the lower range limit is also above 0, then your school has performed significantly better than the national average

A score's dependability, consistency or freedom from random measurement error


How accurately a test measures what it's meant to measure


A collaborative process used for teacher assessments (see below for definition) to allow teachers to benchmark judgements and support consistency between each other and between other schools – thereby making them more reliable. There are 2 types:

  • Internal moderation is conducted by the senior leadership team internally and where possible with other schools too
  • External moderation is a statutory requirement to validate KS1 teacher assessments. Local authorities are required to moderate a sample of at least 25% of their schools each year (and 25% of academies and independent schools that opt to be included in the LA's moderation)
Analyse school performance (ASP) A website that gives school leaders and some governors access to detailed performance data of the school. Formerly called RaiseOnline

Attainment measures

These are used to measure pupil's learning at specific points in time.

Term Meaning Phase
Reception baseline assessment (RBA)

A 1-to-1 assessment for new reception pupils to provide a snapshot of where they are when they start school. New for 2021


Early Years Foundation Stage Profile – a statutory assessment of children’s development at the end of the early years foundation stage

Phonics screening A check done on most year 1 pupils. Some pupils re-sit the test at the end of year 2 KS1
SATs National Curriculum tests administered in years 2 and 6 KS1/KS2
Teacher assessments

Pupil attainment is sometimes assessed by teacher assessments – for example when there's no standardised test

Engagement model 

A regular observational assessment method for pupils working below the level of the National Curriculum and not engaged in subject-specific study. Replaced P scales 1 to 4 as of Sept 2021

GCSEs General Certificates of Secondary Education – a qualification in a specific subject typically taken by school students aged 14 to 16 KS4
EBacc English Baccalaureate – a performance measure based on the percentage of pupils who entered for qualifications in English, maths, sciences, a language and either geography or history KS4
Attainment 8 The mean average of a pupil's scores across 8 GCSEs - including maths and English (both double weighted), 3 further qualifications that count in the EBacc and 3 others that can be GCSE qualifications or any other non-GCSE qualification on the DfE approved list KS4

Get familiar with our other resources on performance data

Most governors don't need to know the ins and outs of performance data. You'll likely get enough out of our governor's guide to attainment and progress and school performance data: the basics

If, however, you're a governor that needs to know more to fulfil your role (e.g. you're on a performance data committee), take a look at our phase-specific articles that dig deeper: 

Progress measures

Also called accountability measures, these are value-added measures to determine how effectively a school improves outcomes for its pupils.

Term Meaning Phase
Progress score (primary) As explained above, a pupil's progress score is calculated in order to calculate a progress score for the school in reading, writing and maths. These figures are published in national tables KS2
Progress 8 (secondary) Much like the progress score but for secondary, progress 8 is the difference between a pupils' actual attainment score across the 8 subjects (see attainment 8) and the average attainment score of pupils with similar prior attainment. The average of all pupil progress 8 scores gives the school's progress 8 score KS4

Pupil characteristics

Data can be categorised to look at how pupils of specific characteristics are performing. These are the most common pupil groups.

Term Meaning
SEN/D Special educational needs or disability – a pupil has SEN/D if they need special educational provision due to a learning difficulty or disability
EHC plan Education, health and care plan – a statutory document drawn up by the local authority, setting out the education, health and social care support to be provided to a child or young person with SEN or a disability
EAL English as an additional language – i.e. the pupil's first language is not English
LAC Looked after child – a child who's looked after by the local authority. It means they're subject to a care order (interim or full care order) or who are voluntarily accommodated by the local authority
Post-LAC Any pupil who has left local authority care due to adoption or other formal arrangement
FSM (also referred to as 'ever-6') Free school meals (usually refers to pupils who've been eligible for FSM at any time during the last 6 years)
SEMH Social, emotional and mental health difficulties
Disadvantaged pupils Pupils who were eligible for FSM at any time during the last 6 years, or LAC/post-LAC pupils (also referred to as pupils eligible for pupil premium)

Downloadable version

You can use this printable version to share with your board: 

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