Research into Assessment

Our assessment research supports national and international educational policy and implementation, ensuring that it is based on the latest evidence about what works and why. Our work includes in-depth research into the purpose, reliability and efficacy of different assessment tools and methods, including high stakes tests, assessment banks, e-assessment and assessment for learning.

Piloting of new tests

NFER leads the piloting of many new assessment instruments (such as the National Reference Test on behalf of Ofqual) for a range of organisations, both in UK and internationally. Piloting provides reliable evidence to inform refinements to the instruments or processes, or to support the live release of the assessments.

Independent impact evaluation

NFER undertakes independent evaluations of new assessment systems, ensuring they meet the purposes for which they were designed. Recent examples of this include the phonics screening check, an evaluation of the Middle Years Mathematics Skills Framework for the International Baccalaureate, and an evaluation of Assessment without Levels practice in England.

Assessment design

We also carry out research into effective test development, administration, analysis and reporting methodologies. Issues we have been commissioned to research in the past include the reliability of e-marking compared to paper-based marking, assessment for learning in science, and pupil attitudes to reading.

NFER also has a self-funded assessment research programme to provide information for schools and the wider educational community, with a current focus on e-assessment.