My previous blog article on how to calculate levels of progress using SIMS is one of the most visited pages on this entire site, so it’s clearly a very common task for data managers in secondary schools. As with many SIMS tasks, there is more than one way to accomplish the same task so I thought I would share an alternative technique.

Check your KS2 and KS4 Data

Identify the aspect and result set combination that contains the whole level KS2 result. Sub levels don’t work with this formula. The official ‘end of KS2 validated’ aspects are ideal unless you are missing lots of results. Take this opportunity to double check your KS4 data. You might want to predict levels of progress based on targeted or predicted grades, or you might want to use ‘currently working at’ grades. Importantly, make sure that the gradesets behind your aspects are using the correct value (is a C grade worth 40 points and a level 4 worth 27 points?).

Create a Counter Gradeset

A counter grade set is a very useful thing to have in your assessment manager toolkit. It’s a simple gradeset consisting of all the integers numbers between (say) -10 and +30. Each number ‘grade’ has the same number as its value. Here’s an example:

Part of a Counter gradeset

Part of a Counter gradeset

Create this gradeset now and call it ‘Counter’. Next create an aspect called (for example) ‘Maths LoP’ and select the new Counter gradeset. Unsurprisingly, this aspect will hold the value for the number of levels of progress made in maths.

Calculate the Difference KS4 – KS2

Use a difference formula to work out the difference between the KS4 result and the KS2 result. For example, Grade C minus Level 4 should be 13 points.

Divide by Six and Add 1

As per my previous post on calculating levels of progress, 13 is the magic number as it represents 3 levels progress. By dividing thirteen points by six we get 2.17. Add one to get 3.17.

Use a Marks to Grade Formula

Add a new column for data entry using a formula. Use the Marks to Grade formula with your new ‘Maths LoP’ aspect to convert 3.17 to grade 3 (note that the formula effectively removes the decimal part of the number).

Er, That’s It

You now have a whole levels of progress column, neatly saved back into your new aspect and easy for teachers to analyse by just showin the grade distribution to get a complete breakdown of percentages and counts of pupil acheiving each level of progress.


For pupil assessed at KS2 as being on a p-scale, below the level of the test, or absent, you may need to do some more work.

A Final Note About Counter Gradesets

I find counter gradesets very useful, not just for levels of progress. Consider using them for:

  • Count of A*-C grades
  • Attainment 8 bucket counts
  • Points distance from targets
  • Progress points at KS1 and KS2
  • Attainment 8 points (though you might need to extend the range up to +100)

Senior managers and teachers will love the easy access to grade distributions that they give!