The Functions of Assessment in Learning and Development

1.1 The Functions of Assessment in Learning and Development
The Role of Initial Assessment in Identifying Leaner Needs
Initial assessment is about knowing your learners, in order to be able give them appropriate support, and it is a crucial part of the learning journey. From the tutor’s perspective it enables effective planning to meet each learner’s individual needs and establishes an initial reference point from which the learners’ progress and achievement can be reviewed. From the learner’s perspective it should establish a starting point, so that the learner can see how much he achieves during the course. For these reasons the initial assessment process should be carried out early on, and it should be used effectively to set the scene for a successful and productive relationship.

Initial assessment is the set of procedures that are carried out to establish what previous experience and abilities a learner has, which will help identify the leaner’s skills against levels within the National Standards; such as Entry Level 2, Entry Level 3, Level 1 and Level 2 in literacy, for example. This often takes the form of an online assessment, giving an ‘instant’ result on completion, and can form part of the interview process or part of the course induction.   After determining the appropriate skills level, we would usually follow-up with a detailed diagnostic assessment, which seeks to identify specific areas of weakness, so that additional support can be targeted (for example, fractions and ratios, in numeracy). The results of their initial assessment should be recorded within their Individual Learning Plan (ILP), together with the results of their diagnostic assessment, and used to inform their ILP.

It is important that learners benefit from an explanation of the process and purpose of their initial assessment, helping them to feel positive about themselves and their potential to learn. So, initial assessment needs to be done ‘with’ learners rather than ‘to’...