How are standardised tests developed?

Standardised tests are developed in a very structured way to ensure that they have validity (they test what they claim to test or the results predict future behaviour) and reliability (the test gives the same or similar results repeatedly over time). The rigorous development process can take between two and four years to complete and involves a number of stages and experts.

  1. Design a test framework (for curriculum tests, this samples the knowledge and skills to be assessed)
  2. Write a large number of content questions
  3. Trial questions with pupils in schools
  4. Reject questions that perform badly in trialling
  5. Develop tests for a standardisation trial
  6. Conduct the standardisation trial with a statistically significant and nationally representative sample of pupils
  7. Develop the norm-referenced measures (such as age-standardised scores and percentiles) to enable comparison of pupil or school performance to performance nationally.