Invariably assessment can have different meanings to various sources, but fundamentally it amounts to forms of testing.   The history of assessment is unclear but undeniably it has been around for a very long time and has changed to suit society’s needs as it has developed.   Indeed,   Unwin and Huddleston (1997) have noted ‘Further Education’s nature and form of assessment has changed considerably during the past ten years’.   In the main the current nature of these assessments habitually falls into these categories:
  * Initial and Diagnostic
  * Formative
  * Summative
  * Assessment of competences
All these categories can be used to service a specific or holistic function within the purpose of assessment.   Prior to starting a course in FE learners   will complete an initial assessment in the admission process this will identify level, skills or knowledge allowing the teacher to guide them into the right level and course.   Coupled with this is usually a diagnostic to drill further into these skills and knowledge and identify strengths and weakness within a subject area, mainly English or Maths (e.g. requires development in percentages or grammar).   Although, it is not only used at the initial stages, a continuing diagnostic assessment could factor at various stages of the learning process.   The diagnostic assessment preceding the course provides initial guidance and identifies entry criteria for a course which could include accreditation of the prior learning.   The review of the learner’s process in tutorial meetings, identifying strengths, developmental needs, as well as identifying learning strategies that could be useful for the student’s progression, is all part of the ongoing diagnostic process.   These can include Key Skills such as communication, information technology, working with others and application of number. Of course the significances that underline diagnostics are important there is the danger of allowing the process to become a box ticking...