Turning education and skills policy into practice

Quantitative services

AlphaPlus has developed a highly successful function for carrying out quantitative research and analysis and has accumulated a diverse range of clients, including UK government departments, e.g. DfE, BIS and Ofqual; awarding organisations; and learned societies, e.g. the Institute of Physics.

We analyse a broad range of data types, including examinations and assessment data; consultation and questionnaire data; and national education data sets such as the national pupil database and EduBase. We are accredited by government to handle massive data sets, and total confidentiality is assured.

The quantitative analysis team care about education, so we leverage data to help improve the education system. To this end, we often collaborate with other specialists, finding solutions to problems and conveying the outcomes of complex analysis clearly and succinctly to our clients. Using a range of graphical presentation techniques, we give insight into what the data is telling us so that clients can go on to use it to best effect.

But it is not always complex. While highly advanced and sophisticated analytical techniques – and diverse analytical approaches, such as using generalisability theory (g-theory) or item response theory (IRT) – may be appropriate for some projects, some questions can be answered relatively simply through careful study. Importantly, we use the most suitable techniques to answer the research question at hand and to meet the client’s requirements.

Example projects

Project: Linked pair of GCSEs in mathematics (MLP) evaluation – statistical analysis
Client: Department for Education (DfE)
A statistical analysis of participation and achievement in the new GCSE mathematics qualifications was undertaken. This involved cleaning and linking huge national data sets then analysing the large volume of information and putting it into a succinct form so as to inform evaluation and policy development. The work involved the innovative application of complex multiple regression analyses.

The project report can be located at:

Project: Longitudinal Skills Study
Client: Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS)
AlphaPlus has been appointed by BIS as part of a consortium led by TNS BMRB, and including NIACE and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, to deliver a major research project on the acquisition and retention of adult basic skills.

Using a Randomised Controlled Trial, the research aims to test the effectiveness (in terms of skills gained) of different models of teaching and learning of adult basic English and maths provision and assess which is most effective for different types of learners. The project will then follow the progress of learners after their course to investigate the factors affecting how their skills improve or atrophy over time.

AlphaPlus’ role in the collaborative project is to develop new assessment tools to measure skills levels, and to deliver the Randomised Controlled Trial in around 130 learner groups. Andrew Boyle has been leading AlphaPlus’ IRT research and analysis, which includes the creation of measurement scales across multiple tests, using a variety of task types.

The project began in March 2013 and will end in 2016.