Kazakhstan - Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools

Since 2012 we support the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) in Kazakhstan not only in the development and implementation of a complete and integrated assessment system to monitor students' progress in mathematics but also with a Train-the-trainer-program.

Development and implementation of a selection test 

Cito has supported and guided the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) in the development of a complete new system with a high predictive validity that selects the most gifted learners to enter grade 7 of the NIS schools. We have trained selected teams of item developers (teachers at the NIS schools) for the construction of test items that can measure the potential of the young learners for a successful school career in secondary and high school.

As NIS schools offer trilingual education with a great focus on mathematics and natural sciences, candidates for the limited scholarship places are tested in four subject domains: mathematics, Russian language, Kazakh language and English language. Results of this very competitive and high stakes selection procedure are analyzed at Cito offices in the Netherlands and reports with scientific foundation are delivered to NIS.

Training item developers

Based on the newly developed and implemented curriculum, we train and support teams of item developers (selected teachers at the NIS schools) to develop specific test matrices for the construction of test items that can measure the mathematical ability of students.

Two times a year all students in the grades 7 up to 12 take tests that provide measurements for defining ability levels in each of the five domains in the learning program. Psychometric models for analysis and prototypes for reporting to stakeholders are designed by Cito and gradually transferred to a custom made approach of NIS in the Kazakh context.

Cito consultants working in Astana with the item development team for grades 11 and 12

We combine proven experience and instruments with newly developed tools for the NIS school system, like level descriptors that support the reported ability scores.

Since 2015 NIS uses Questify computerbased platform to develop monitoring tests and to organise digitalized administration and data capturing.


During the years 2013-2015 we have trained (in total) 90 teachers of the Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (NIS) in Kazakhstan in a so called ‘Train-the-trainer-program’.

In 3 weekly sessions of 5 (intensive) days those teachers increased their knowledge and skills in test construction, were also trained in screening and reviewing developed items and developed internal training programs to educate their colleagues in their own schools. 

The result of this work will be that those teachers will spread out the learned knowledge and skill about test construction, based on their own competences and demands in their educational field. 

Proposed for 2017 is a certification project (assessor training) for NIS to be able to asses every participant of these training sessions.

Cito trainers at work in Kazachstan