Initial Assessment Tools

The Search for Spock initial assessment tools;

DfES recommend the following resources via their read write plus campaign http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/readwriteplus/

The Basic Skills Agency has produced “skills check” tools as a way of screening students to see if further initial assessment is required. http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/toolslibrary

Cambridge Training and Development (CTAD) “Target Skills” http://www.targetskills.net/ not much info here, but leads to publications pages.

West Nottinghamshire College have produced a Basic Keyskillbuilder although the links all lead to password protected moodle site where you can’t even log in as a guest user – so no use for anyone wishing to follow examples of good practice.

The only useful one here so far is the Basic Skills agency, available resources are; “Good Practice Guidelines” http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/pdf/Good_Practice_Guide.pdf which is subtitled “for literacy, language and numeracy teachers, subject support staff and adult learner supporters” . Who are these guidelines designed to help?

“Skills for Life is an ambitious strategy that is designed to address literacy, language and numeracy needs of all adults and young people. It covers all post-16 learners on learning programmes at levels from pre-Entry up to and including Level 2.”

So not all adults and young people as it doesn’t include level 3+ courses?

New search;

“Initial assessment in HE” returned the following document written in 2001, http://readingroom.lsc.gov.uk/pre2005/quality/goodpractice/initial-assessment-of-learning-and-support-needs-and-planning-learning-to-meet-needs.pdf which highlights some good points (this is from 2001 not found anything more recent yet…)

The trend appears to be to assess basic skills; literacy and numeracy, upon commencing a course, those who need help with either are picked up and support offered such as testing for dyslexia, there are relatively few references to screening mainstream students and where they are screened, it is only for “basic skills”

Otherwise existing qualifications are used as the startpoint to compare gaining new skills and knowledge against. But this doesn’t help determine what additional support the students need.

What questions to ask?

The plan is to get the student perspective, find out what assessment is carried out and how the results benefit them. I have students who sat through literacy screening in September and still haven’t had the follow up support they need 8 months later. Maybe I work for a particularly bad example, maybe initial assessment is just another hoop to jump through, but why bother collecting the data if you’re not going to use it for the benefit of your students?

If I use the Ofsted criteria as a guide, what questions should I be asking the students?

Specialist staff? Who carries out the assessment? Course lecturer, personal tutor, specialist, online, self assessment?

Appropriate time? Start of the course? Interview?

Starting point, learning plan? Is it relevant, are the targets attainable, is it updated regularly?

Screening for literacy/numeracy?

Results, feedback?

Appropriate support?

What tools already exist for evaluating an initial assessment policy? This one from QIA helps staff to discuss initial assessment; http://excellence.qia.org.uk/media/attachments/108534/Initial-Assessment-Tool-v6.pdf

I’m off to play around with surveymonkey.com

Searching for literature to review

The majority of available literature on the topic of initial assessment consists of policy documents aimed at providers of ESOL and Basic Skills education. There have been a number of government initiatives in the UK aimed at improving standards in literacy and numeracy.

The QCA says schools with half decent admissions procedures are the ones which will adequately identify support needs;  http://www.qca.org.uk/qca_7143.aspx

Ofsted www.excellencegateway.org.uk recommends “STL” as example of good practice… so off I went to Google STL; http://www.stltraining.co.uk/ and then emailed someone from STL to enquire about their assessment policy. One month on and I’ve heard nothing.

Anyway, the general guidance from Ofsted is that good practice in initial assessment must have;

  • Team approach to support
  • Detailed initial assessment
  • ILPs

What do their inspectors look out for?…

http://excellence.qia.org.uk/page.aspx?o=11F8361F-F327-4D61-BF27-43190802FECD

So now we know.