NFER welcomes Ofqual confirmation of first National Reference Test in 2017
2 September 2016
NFER welcomes the confirmation today from the exams regulator, Ofqual, that the first National Reference Test (NRT), which will be taken by 18,000 students, will be held in February and March 2017. NFER is Ofqual’s NRT delivery partner.
The National Reference Test is being introduced by Ofqual to provide additional information to support the awarding of GCSEs. The purpose of the Test is to provide evidence on changes in performance over time in GCSE English language and mathematics in England at the end of Year 11. The Test will provide an anchor for GCSE standards enabling us to see if there is real change in how students perform over several years.
Carole Willis, NFER Chief Executive, said: “This is great news. After two years of development by our team of assessment experts, two trials and participation by 13,000 students, the NRT will provide a trustworthy and rigorous measure of attainment over time in GCSE maths and English language.”
The NRT is an important development for our secondary education system. NFER has designed, developed and trialled the NRT ready for its launch in 2017. This involved:
- developing a large volume of questions for the NRT papers
- conducting a field trial in autumn 2015, in which we tested all the materials. We marked work from 4000 students and selected the best questions to be used to construct 16 test booklets. These booklets between them cover the new GCSE curriculum in maths and English language.
- a full-scale trial or ‘dress rehearsal’, known as the Preliminary Reference Test (PRT), held in spring 2016 in over 300 schools with more than 9000 students. It looked at all aspects of the test to ensure that it can differentiate students’ performance and to confirm the approach to selecting the sample of students to participate as representative of all year 11 students taking their GCSEs each summer.