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NFER to deliver new National Reference Tests

30 March 2015

NFER is pleased to announce today (30 March) that it has reached agreement in principle with Ofqual to develop and deliver the new National Reference Tests (NRT).

Work on the new eight-year contract is expected to get underway as soon as the contract is signed.

New National Reference Tests are being introduced by Ofqual in 2017 to provide additional information to support the awarding of GCSEs.  The purpose of the Tests is to provide evidence on changes in performance standards over time in GCSE English language and mathematics in England at the end of Year 11.  The Tests will provide an anchor for GCSE standards and should enable us to see over several years if there is genuine change in how students perform.

The new Tests will be developed over the next two years with the first NRT to be taken in March 2017. Each year a random sample of students at about 300 schools will be asked to take a Test in maths or English in March, before their GCSEs.

Carole Willis, chief executive of NFER said:

 “NFER is delighted to be working with Ofqual on designing and delivering the new National Reference Tests. This is an important development in providing robust independent research evidence for education and will add to the evidence on standards that NFER already provides, for example through international surveys. NFER was set up in 1948 to provide exactly this type of evidence base to inform national decision making.”

Designing and developing the NRT will be a significant technical challenge but it is one that NFER has a proven track record in and, along with our partners Cito and AlphaPlus, one which NFER is well equipped to deliver.

Glenys Stacey, Ofqual Chief Regulator said:

“I am pleased that we have reached agreement with NFER to develop and introduce the new National Reference Tests.  The Tests will provide additional information that we expect to significantly advance our ability to detect genuine changes in performance and so improve awarding.  We will act cautiously as we build our understanding of the information that the Tests will provide and how this is used in GCSE awarding."


For more information contact Jane Parrack, Marketing and Communications Manager, Tel: 01756 637245, Email: