Streamlining FE initial assessments with CENTURY

Posted on 3rd September 2020

Posted by Ali Lennard


Over the last year, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of further education colleges signed up to CENTURY. As a former English teacher, it is a delight to know that thousands of FE students across the country are benefitting from CENTURY’s intelligent recommendation engine and receiving much-needed support in English and mathematics.

While elsewhere on our blog you can hear from FE colleges directly about how CENTURY is boosting student engagement and improving resits results, today I'd like to discuss a specific area of post-16 provision: FE Initial Assessments.

How does Initial Assessment work?

It is not always necessary to conduct initial assessments; in many colleges FE learners who achieve a Grade 3 in their GCSE will normally be placed on a GCSE resit course, and those who achieve a Grade 2 will usually be placed on a Level 1 or 2 Functional Skills course. Many of the colleges we work with have a blanket policy whereby all learners are placed onto GCSE resit courses, meaning that Initial Assessments are simply not necessary. But in many settings, such assessments are required – this article explores how CENTURY can be used to carry these out quickly, accurately and effectively.

When learners arrive at a further education college and it is not clear which course level is the most appropriate, it is important to quickly and accurately assess their starting points in order to establish whether a Functional Skills course or the GCSE course would best suit them. Fortunately, this decision is largely determined by most learners’ previous grades, which allows them to study at the correct level from day one. However, some learners may arrive with little to no prior attainment in English or maths. A flexible assessment that equips teachers and tutors with data to make the final call can ensure that these learners are given the best start to their academic courses. 

This is a big challenge for colleges even at the best of times: with FE learners now facing unprecedented disruption to their education, colleges require more support than ever with analysing and filling in their learners’ gaps in knowledge.

                          The start of a CENTURY Initial Assessment diagnostic

However, those of us who have taught or worked in a school or college know that there simply aren’t enough resources to provide every candidate with a totally personalised approach. With this in mind, we at CENTURY have developed a series of initial assessments that – when combined with human intervention – enable teachers and tutors to decide which course is the most suitable for each individual learner. The assessments provide detailed, personal insights that enable staff to set learners on the right path and to make intelligent interventions where required.

Using CENTURY’s Diagnostics for FE

CENTURY’s Diagnostics for FE are designed to test learners’ abilities upon their arrival at college. Colleges can quickly assign initial assessments to their learners through the Class Admin page or, alternatively, bespoke courses can be created to meet the needs of their learners. Students sit these assessments on the CENTURY platform, which instantly marks their answers and delivers the data back to the teachers and tutors.

                             A CENTURY Initial Assessment diagnostic question

This allows all stakeholders to analyse learners' performances in order to determine which course is the most suitable for them. As well as being saved within the platform, the data is available to export to an Excel spreadsheet. This can be used as evidence to effectively benchmarking progress later in the year.

Teachers and tutors will have immediate access to learners’ diagnostic assessment results. This can assist in lesson planning before the academic year even begins and allows for targeted interventions and groupings to maximise learners’ attainment in class. Our powerful data analytics enable tutors to see at a glance which learners are on track and to prioritise lessons based on their class’s needs.

                         A teacher's view of the Initial Assessment diagnostic results

The CENTURY platform is powered by artificial intelligence. This means the learners’ pathway is populated with micro-lessons (which we call ‘nuggets’) that are tailored to their needs as soon as the appropriate course is assigned. This instant personalisation of lessons allows them to progress quickly through the courses if they demonstrate a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts. For example, if a student has a clear grasp of working with integers on a maths course, CENTURY will begin by setting them appropriately-targeted lessons on decimals and fractions. This means that their teacher or tutor can work together with CENTURY to make intelligent interventions that will ensure maximum progress from day one. 

CENTURY’s initial assessments for FE can be used by your college to assess any student’s level to help facilitate a seamless transition into their college career. The powerful combination of human intuition and intelligent learning can provide the means for rapid, measurable progress and strong student engagement.

Book a demo to find out more about how CENTURY is able to supercharge teaching and learning at your further education college.