Frequently asked questions

The NFER assessment range
Year 1 & 2 assessments
NFER Tests outputs
2017 KS2 Tests re-standardisation

The NFER assessment range

What assessments are available in the NFER Tests range?
Can I view the tests before purchasing?
When will Year 1 and 2 tests be available?
Why are Year 1 and 2 tests not available for use in 2017?
Has NFER produced a reception baseline assessment scheme?

What assessments are available in the NFER Tests range?

We currently offer termly tests for use in Years 3, 4 and 5 in reading, mathematics and grammar and punctuation. One set of spelling tests is available for use across each of the Years 3, 4 and 5. In addition, Year 1 summer reading and mathematics assessments are available to pre-order for delivery in spring 2018 and Year 2 autumn reading and mathematics assessments are available to pre-order for delivery in summer 2018. 

What assessments are available in the NFER Tests range?

Examples of the types of materials you will see in the KS2 NFER Tests of reading, mathematics, spelling and grammar and punctuation, and Year 1 reading and mathematics can be found here.

 

When will Year 1 and 2 tests be available?

Year 1 tests are available to pre-order for delivery in spring 2018 and use in summer 2018 and autumn tests are available to pre-order for delivery in summer 2018 and use in autumn 2018.

Why are Year 1 and 2 tests not available for use earlier?

All of our NFER Tests go through a rigorous standardisation process. It is important to standardise tests with pupils who are familiar with the current curriculum and at the time of year that the test is intended for use. Year 1 tests were standardised in Summer 2017 and will be available for use in Summer 2018. Autumn tests were standardised in Autumn 2017 and will be available for use in Autumn 2018.

Has NFER produced a reception baseline assessment scheme?

Yes, NFER has developed a baseline assessment scheme for use on children's entry to Reception. This is currently being used by schools and is available to order here.

 

Years 1 and 2 assessments

Why did NFER choose to develop assessments for KS1?
How and when should KS1 assessments be used?
What makes NFER’s KS1 tests a reliable choice?

Why did NFER choose to develop assessments for KS1?

Schools using our KS2 tests frequently told us they would welcome a linked set of materials for KS1. Traditionally, NFER publications include limited assessment material for KS1. However, given this feedback, we came to the conclusion that as long as the resulting materials balanced test reliability and validity with sensitivity to the age-group, then we should extend our range to cover KS1 too. Our primary aim was that the end product should be engaging and appealing to pupils while also producing useful data for their teachers.

How and when should KS1 assessments be used?

The new Year 1 assessments are intended for use in the summer term, providing a measure of attainment midway through the Key Stage. We are currently developing another set of materials for use in the autumn term of Year 2. These will identify areas for development well in advance of the end of Key Stage national tests.

What makes NFER’s KS1 tests a reliable choice?

Following NFER practice, these tests undergo a rigorous standardisation process with the Year 1 summer tests being standardised on over 3,500 pupils in summer 2017 and the autumn tests being standardised in autumn 2018 with a similar number of pupils. A teachers’ script is provided for both subjects in Year 1 to safeguard the reliability of the results, by ensuring that the degree of support is the same in all schools.

 

NFER Tests outputs

What tools are available to help interpret the results from NFER Tests?
How do NFER Tests help schools ensure pupils are on track to meet the expected standards at the end of KS2?
How do NFER Tests help to monitor pupil progress?
Why don’t NFER Tests provide scaled scores?
How were age-related expectations calculated?
Why are age-related expectation outcomes not available for the grammar and punctuation tests?
Why are age-related expectation outcomes not available for the autumn or spring sets of tests?
Are standardised scores a good measure for calculating a Year 6 scaled score?
How do I calculate standardised, age-standardised and age-related expectations scores?
How else can NFER Tests support teacher assessments?
Will copying existing raw scores into the new spreadsheet change the resulting standardised and age-standardised scores? Does this mean that the original standardisation was wrong/inaccurate?
What should I report to parents?
Are there any issues with continuity of data from last year’s results?

What tools are available to help interpret the results from NFER Tests?

We offer comprehensive marking guidance and help to analyse and interpret test results. Teacher Guides for each subject are available to purchase and prices start from £12. Tools to monitor Progress and attainment are freely available to all NFER Tests customers who purchase the relevant Teacher Guide. More information on these tools can be found here.

How do NFER Tests help schools ensure pupils are on track to meet the expected standards at the end of KS2?

Our tests support teachers by providing evidence of attainment and progress through the provision of:

Data about individual questions can be explored using our downloadable analysis tools to identify pupil and class strengths and weaknesses. This information can then support personalised learning and effective targeted teaching, enabling pupils to meet age-related expectations.

How do NFER Tests help to monitor pupil progress?

As a result of extensive trialling, KS2 NFER Tests in reading, mathematics and grammar and punctuation will allow pupil progress to be monitored in two ways:

When used at two points in the school year, tests can be used to evidence progress made in the year. For example, if a pupil takes the Year 3 autumn reading test in September and the Year 3 summer reading test in June, then the progress made in these eight months can be monitored.

When used together, the summer tests for Years 3, 4 and 5 will enable progress to be monitored from one year to the next. For example, teachers will be able to look at the progress made by a pupil who took the Year 3 summer reading tests and then the following year took the Year 4 summer reading test.

Why don’t NFER Tests provide scaled scores?

The DfE use scaled scores in order to maintain the same expected standard across different tests. As there are new KS2 tests each year, it is very difficult to develop two tests that are exactly comparable in terms of the level of difficulty. A scaled score is used to hold the expected standard constant; the average score may go up or down depending on the difficulty of the test in that year.

Schools using the NFER Tests will use the same tests every year (during the life of the test) so there is no need to use a scaled score. It is more useful to produce a standardised score where the national average is fixed at 100. This allows you to see how children are performing compared to the national average and to compare the performance of different cohorts.

How were age-related expectations calculated?

We conducted a series of standard setting workshops with over 100 practicing teachers. The teachers used their expertise to assess test content in relation to national curriculum expectations. Using a statistical method known as ‘bookmarking’, the teachers’ knowledge of the skills and understanding required of pupils either achieving or exceeding the expectations was used to define score ranges denoting how well pupils have mastered the curriculum for their school year. Further information about age-related expectations can be found in our webinar series here.

Why are age-related expectation outcomes not available for the grammar and punctuation tests?

It is likely that grammar and punctuation expectations will vary considerably as teachers and pupils become more familiar with the relatively new Programme of Study requirements in this area of the curriculum. Therefore, we do not currently provide age-related expectation information for the grammar and punctuation tests: a standard setting exercise will be carried out when teacher and pupil familiarity with this curriculum area is more developed.

Why are age-related expectation outcomes not available for the autumn or spring sets of tests?

The autumn and spring tests make allowances for the fact that pupils have not studied the full curriculum for the current school year. This means that for maths, the tests cover a small proportion of content from the curriculum of the previous year with the majority of content from the current year’s curriculum. For reading, some of the texts included are not as demanding. This ensures that there are questions which all pupils feel confident they can attempt. However, there are still questions that challenge the more able pupils and allow them to demonstrate their ability. For this reason, it is not appropriate to provide an age-related expectation outcome at this point; most pupils will likely be below the standard expected at the end of the year due to limited coverage of the content for that year. The autumn and spring tests provide both standardised and age-standardised scores so attainment is still measured.

The primary use of both the autumn and spring tests is to provide formative rather than summative information. The autumn tests are useful for establishing a baseline while both sets of tests can provide diagnostic information identifying strengths and weaknesses of either classes or individuals. Used in conjunction with the summer tests, the autumn and spring tests are intended to aid monitoring of progress within the school year.In many cases progress will be as expected – children will maintain their position relative to the national average. Others may make small incremental steps of progress improving their relative position whereas others may slip backwards – these are the children that you may wish to then monitor more carefully in the following year.

Are standardised scores a good measure for calculating a Year 6 scaled score?

A standardised score of 100 is not the same as, nor equivalent to, the Year 6 scaled score of 100. On NFER tests, a standardised score of 100 represents the average performance of the sample. The scaled score of 100 represents the ‘expected standard’, as defined by the DfE, and is not the same as an average score. The measure of age-related expectations provided in the summer tests may be a better guide, but we do not claim to provide any measure that explicitly predicts or mirrors the Year 6 scaled score.

How do I calculate standardised, age-standardised and age-related expectations scores?

Look-up tables are provided in the teacher guides. However, a downloadable analysis tool is available for free when purchasing the associated teacher guides. This tool is designed to automatically calculate standardised scores, age-standardised scores and age-related expectations when you enter raw test scores. The tool automatically generates graphs to plot the progress of pupils in each class during the school year and across years . A further tool allows teachers to monitor class performance across Programmes of Study and gain insight into individual pupil development by tracking strengths and weaknesses.

Further information about how to use the analysis tools can be found in our webinar series here.

How else can NFER Tests support teacher assessments?

Our independent Analysis and Marking Service (AMS) provides schools with comprehensive analyses of pupils’ performance and progress in the Years 3, 4 and 5 summer tests. NFER manages every stage of the collection, marking and analysis of your NFER Tests and provides you with a tailored report containing question level data profiles for each pupil including raw scores, age-standardised scores, and standardised scores, in a format suitable for sharing with staff, governors and Ofsted. You can register your interest for this service in 2018 here.

Will copying existing raw scores into the new spreadsheet change the resulting standardised and age-standardised scores? Does this mean that the original standardisation was wrong/inaccurate?

Your standardised and age-standardised scores may change slightly, reflecting the fact that the standardisations have been up-dated. The original scores were not ’wrong’; they represented the comparison with the national average at the time of the original standardisations. Some scores may change more or less than others depending on the characteristics of the different subjects and how these have been affected by the changes to the curriculum and the timing of the standardisations within the academic year.

What should I report to parents?

We recommend using the new data within the progress monitoring tool as this will give you access to the automated graphical outputs. These will make it easier for teachers to explain to parents the progress pupils are making within and across years.

Are there any issues with continuity of data from last year’s results?

We recommend that you use the updated standardisation data as this will give you a more accurate picture over time.

 

2017 KS2 Tests re-standardisation

What does re-standardisation mean?
What have you re-standardised?
Why re-standardise?
Why haven’t you re-standardised summer reading and maths tests?
Why haven’t you re-standardised the spelling tests?
How does this impact on the monitoring of pupil progress?

What does re-standardisation mean?

Re-standardisation of a test means that the test has been completed by a new nationally representative sample. The data collected is analysed and new, more up-to-date standardisation tables are produced. The test has not changed and, in this case, the range of outcomes available for teachers to measure pupils’ attainment and monitor their progress has not changed. However, the standardisation data gives a better reflection of performance against the current national standards.

What have you re-standardised?

We have re-standardised:

Why re-standardise?

There were two reasons for re-standardising the NFER tests. Firstly, the tests were originally standardised on a sample of pupils who had only been taught the 2014 curriculum for four terms. For grammar and punctuation, there were changes in the amount of emphasis given to some areas of the curriculum and it was possible that pupils’ performance at the time of the original standardisation would not reflect their true performance had they been given the opportunity to study the 2014 curriculum for longer. The tests may have become relatively easier for pupils as the curriculum became embedded. All pupils participating in this re-standardisation exercise will have studied the new curriculum for two years.

The second reason for re-standardising the tests is due to the trialling period of the original standardisation. In order to maximise the period pupils had been taught the new curriculum and at the same time ensure the tests were available to schools for summer 2016 / autumn 2017, the original data was collected in February 2016, slightly outside the intended test administration periods. The amount of teaching given to the pupils completing the test for the standardisation trial compared with live conditions was therefore slightly different.

The re-standardisation of the autumn tests was carried out in autumn 2016, matching the intended use of the tests. Similarly the re-standardisation of the summer grammar and punctuation tests was carried out in summer 2017. The teaching and learning of the pupils in the national re-standardisation samples better matches that of the intended test takers. Because the re-standardisation was carried out with pupils who were completing the tests as part of their normal school assessment programme (as opposed to developing the assessments themselves), a greater number of pupils could be included in the sample. This will have further enhanced the quality of the re-standardisation data.

Why haven’t you re-standardised summer reading and maths tests?

The content and expectations in standards for reading and mathematics were more familiar to pupils and teachers than that of grammar and punctuation. These subjects are less likely to have shown variability over time in how well pupils are able to answer the questions. The original standardisations for both reading and mathematics also took place during the summer term, matching the intended time frame for the use of the summer tests.

Why haven’t you re-standardised the spelling tests?

The spelling tests are designed to be completed in any order during the course of the year. These tests did not need to be standardised in specific terms.

How does this impact on the monitoring of pupil progress? For example, I have filled in the progress monitoring tool for my year 3 in autumn 2016 (original standardisation) and they will now be sitting year 4 autumn with the new standardisation.

There are two options available. You can either continue using the existing score converter/progress monitoring spreadsheets which are based on the original standardisation data. The progress that each pupil makes relative to their classmates will still be demonstrated. However, a new progress monitoring tool and a supplement to the teacher guide will shortly be made available. These will be based on the re-standardisation data. We recommend that you use the updated standardisation data as this will give you a more accurate picture over time. The new progress monitoring tool also provides automated graphical outputs that will make it easier for teachers and parents to see the progress pupils are making within and across years. You will be able to simply copy and paste your pupil data and raw scores into the progress monitoring spreadsheet in order to get the most up-to-date results.

The NFER assessment range | Year 1 & 2 assessments | NFER Tests outputs |
2017 KS2 Tests re-standardisation