Introduction of statutory participation in trialling of national curriculum tests from 2016

Information about the requirement of selected schools to participate in statutory national curriculum test trials from 2016

As of 2016, schools will be required to participate in the trials if they are drawn in a sample.

Trials are important in the test development process managed by the Standards and Testing Agency (STA). They help to ensure that questions are appropriate for pupils, that the live tests are valid and reliable and help us to set and maintain standards for the tests.

Statutory participation will ensure trial data is representative of the national cohort. The sample of schools will be stratified by prior attainment, region and school type to ensure the sample reflects the population of assessing schools in these factors.

Each trial will take place in a 2 week period, between April and June, each year. We will not trial key stage 2 tests during the test week in May 2016.

STA will trial test material for key stages 1 and 2 in:

  • reading
  • mathematics
  • grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • science

Although the length of the trial is dependent on the subject, most trials should last no longer than 2 ½ hours.

The 3 appointed agencies that currently run trials are:

  • National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)
  • Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
  • Pearson

The appointed agencies will contact selected schools early in the spring term. Agency representatives will administer the trials.

Schools will need to provide a suitable environment for the trial to take place. They should also provide staff to support the trial and pupil data to support the analysis. Trialling agencies will provide further instructions and information to participating schools.

As selection for participation is random, it is possible that a school may be selected for a trial in consecutive years. As each sample is more targeted this means that, over time, schools will be drawn less frequently. If selected, a school will trial one subject only in any one year.

Published 16 July 2015
Last updated 29 September 2015 + show all updates
  1. This update provides more detail about the statutory trialling of the national curriculum tests that will take place in 2016

  2. First published.