National reference test 2019 dates revealed

The national reference test will take place in 350 schools between February 25 and March 8 next year, Ofqual has announced.

The National Foundation for Educational Research, which administers the English and maths test for year 11 pupils, is in the process of contacting the schools selected to take part next year.

Ofqual introduced the National Reference Test last year to provide more information about the awarding of GCSEs. In its first year of delivery, 2017-18, the test cost £2.05 million.

First piloted in 2016, the tests involve a sample of Year 11 students sitting the exams each year in order to monitor, over time, how well cohorts of pupils are performing. The results act as a guide for increases or decreases in that cohort’s GCSE grades.

Ofqual today sought to reassure schools that results from the test will only be used to measure changes in performance nationally.

“There will be no results for individual students or schools,” the organisation said.

“Thank you again to all the schools and students who took part in the test earlier this year,” said Sally Collier, the chief regulator.

“We have completed the analysis of this year’s test and we are satisfied with the quality of the information that it has provided. To those schools which have been invited to take part in 2019, thank you in advance for your support.”

The test questions “will remain largely the same over time”, Ofqual said, so the overall performance of each cohort taking the test can be compared to others that have sat the test previously.

“We continue to prepare with exam boards for the potential use of information from the test, which will, at the earliest, be during GCSE awarding in 2019.”