Information about NFER Online Assessments Trialling

Privacy Notice for Parents [PDF]
Privacy Notice for Staff [PDF]

NFER is currently developing e-Assessment capability in the form of an online system for managing learners and on screen assessments. This will enable us, in the future, to deliver assessments online as well as on paper. Over the coming terms we will be trialling the core system, the learner process and new content.

Trials are a key part of the development process, which will ensure that:

  • the system enables schools to manage users, learners and assessments
  • the learners can access the system, practice and complete assessments
  • the assessment approach, interactions and content are fit for purpose
  • the assessments generate reliable, robust information that supports the improvement of teaching and learning.

It is important we trial the system and assessment in schools to enable us to evaluate the effectiveness of the platform, individual questions, as well as the assessment as a whole. We will use the information from the trials to shape all aspects of the assessment and systems.

How can schools take part?

As part of this development, we will invite a sample of schools to take part in trials to ensure that both our system and assessments deliver the high-quality experience we aspire to in real classrooms. These schools will be contacted directly by email or phone call and given instructions on how to register their interest in participating via the NFER School Portal. Participation is on a voluntary basis.

For more information about the NFER Online Assessments or questions about the trials, please contact [email protected].

What does taking part in the trial involve?

Participating schools will be asked to administer a short test or full assessments with a selection of their pupils from an appropriate year group and provide feedback on their experience. In some cases, assessments will be administered by school staff with remote support available from NFER staff, and in other cases NFER researchers will visit schools and work through assessments with small groups of pupils.

Our staff will arrange to help you set up the system and will ensure you have all the information you need to participate.

The system will include material for both the teacher and learners to familiarise themselves with the nature of the tests, how to navigate through them and how to interact with the questions.

The tests themselves will differ in length depending on the trial’s nature, the subject and the year group. Tests should last no longer than a normal paper test.

We will provide guidance, materials and offer support by telephone or email throughout the trials.

After each trial, we will ask school staff to complete a questionnaire to capture their views on the trial materials and the operational aspects of the assessment.

These trials will help us to understand how our system works in classrooms, how pupils interact with online assessments and how pupils interpret our questions.

What is a technical trial?

A Technical trial is about the system and ensuring it functions in the way it is intended and allows all users within the school to access and complete the tasks they need to. This will involve children taking a short test to see how the questions work. The questions will be age appropriate but will not reflect the full curriculum. Early trials will not include reporting aspects.

What is a qualitative trial?

A qualitative trial focuses on the assessment materials themselves and ensuring the children understand the intention and content of each question. These are usually in school sessions led by a researcher working with small groups of children.

What is a standardisation trial?

A standardisation trial is conducted with a nationally representative sample of pupils of an appropriate age and at the point in the school year when the test is likely to be used. The main purpose is to obtain data on the functioning of the test and to produce the standardised and age-standardised scores. The trial data is also used to inform the development of the mark schemes, ensuring that all answers are addressed in the mark schemes and that marks can be awarded fairly and accurately.

Because we are developing double the number of test questions required for the final assessment, we also use the standardisation trial data to select the best questions to make up the final test. This takes into account a variety of considerations such as overall test difficulty and the balance across curriculum areas.

What specification for IT equipment and access do you need?

To take part in the trial, schools must have the following IT equipment and access:

  • Operating systems: Windows 10 or above or the latest Chrome OS for Chromebooks
  • Browsers: Latest versions of Google Chrome, Safari or Microsoft Edge.

We recommend:

  • Windows 10 and Google Chrome for the best experience.