Attainment and progress: know the difference

When it comes to measuring pupil performance, it's easy to confuse 'attainment' and 'progress'. Be clear about the difference so you can effectively analyse your school’s performance data.

Last reviewed on 8 September 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 11820
  1. Understand the difference 
  2. How Ofsted considers these measures 
  3. Analyse your school's performance data 

Understand the difference 

Here's how the DfE and Ofsted use these terms:

Attainment: the academic standard that pupils reach in, for example, assessments and exams. It's usually recorded as grades, scores or levels, and it indicates a pupil’s result at the end of a Key Stage (KS).

Progress: pupils’ achievements over a period of time, for example from KS2 to KS4. It’s the difference between pupils’ previous attainment and current attainment. When measuring a pupil’s progress, the DfE also takes into account the progress of pupils with similar starting points. 

Read more about these terms in the DfE's guidance on understanding school performance measures.

How Ofsted considers these measures 

Please note: inspectors won't use teacher-assessed grades from 2020 and 2021 to assess curriculum impact.

Will look at whether the attainment and progress data you've collected is proportionate, and if it's an efficient and sustainable use of your staff's resources. They don't require predictions of attainment and