National Reference Test Results Digest 2018

Chris Whetton, Angela Hopkins & Louise Benson

13 December 2018

Ofqual has introduced the National Reference Test (NRT) to provide additional information to support the awarding of GCSEs. NFER developed and administers the NRT under contract to Ofqual.

In February/March 2018 a random sample of around 12,000 year 11 students from over 300 schools took the NRT. The first live NRT, taken in 2017, was benchmarked against the first awards of the reformed GCSEs in English language and maths, and the 2018 NRT is the first opportunity to compare the performance of students in 2018 with those in 2017. Results are reported as expected percentages of students achieving those grades (and above) based on changes in performance on the NRT.

Key Findings

The NRT Results Digest 2018: includes details of the sample, the analyses conducted on the test data and how the tests performed overall. The main findings are:

  • Overall, for both English and mathematics, the NRT tests functioned well, just as they had in 2017.
  • The expected percentage of students at the grade 7, grade 5 and grade 4 boundaries in 2018 are slightly down for English, compared to 2017, however, these are not considered statistically significant because the 2017 population percentages lie within the three 2018 confidence intervals.
  • In mathematics, the data indicates that the expected percentages are higher than they were in 2017 at all three grade boundaries of interest. The three confidence intervals lie above the 2017 population percentages without overlap.