The Centre for Educational Assessment (CEA) has been a division of the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) since the beginning of 2014.

Previously known as the Alternative Admissions Research Project (AARP), CEA was established in the early 1980s as part of the University’s commitment to meeting the needs of students from diverse educational and linguistic backgrounds.

Historically, AARP was located within the Academic Development Programme (ADP) at the University of Cape Town. CEA’s links with Admission and Academic Development-like structures in Higher Education is critical. The principal objective of assessment has always been:

  • the identification of potential;
  • the placement of students in appropriate forms of curriculum provision;
  • the identification of forms of teaching and learning support that will maximise the possibility of student integration and success, and the historical analyses of academic performance patterns.

These three areas are arguably traditional ‘heartland’ Academic Development work, and CEA continues to develop synergies and iterative relationships with colleagues at UCT and with colleagues in Higher Education nationally.

CEA’s central role is the identification of the academic potential of school-leavers – particularly those from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds – to cope with the typical core demands of higher education study. It is home to the National Benchmark Tests Project (NBTP). The purpose of the NBTP is four-fold:

  • To assess entry-level academic and quantitative literacy and mathematics proficiency of student;
  • To assess the relationship between entry level proficiencies and school-level exit outcomes;
  • To provide a service to HE institutions requiring additional information in the admission and placement of students; and
  • To inform the nature of foundation courses and curriculum responsiveness

CEA’s mission is to provide educational testing that contributes to access and success at UCT and in the broader higher education and training sector. In realising this mission, CEA develops educational tests that are reliable and valid in these higher educational contexts. Its educational measurement and learning analytics research supports and informs teaching and learning and educational policy with respect to selection, admission and placement in order to improve access and success.