The Centre for Educational Assessments (CEA) has progressively become the largest educational testing department in South Africa and uses the most up-to-date test processes, practices and measurement theories. CEA has developed numerous testing instruments and is continuously engaged with the post school sector to develop further tests which will serve particular niche purposes. For example, CEA is currently engaged in the development of tests for the recognition of prior learning and for postgraduate studies.
CEA’s mission is to be the nationally preferred provider of meaningful research and testing that contributes to access and success in higher and further education and training. In order to realize this vision, CEA strives to:
- Develop tests in Academic Literacy, Quantitative Literacy, Scientific Reasoning and Mathematics that are valid predictors of performance in educational contexts – especially for students from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds. These tests are developed nationally by discipline experts and tap competencies that are required by these educational contexts.
- Do research into the reliability and validity of these tests; explore different methodologies investigating this capacity; look into the factors that predict student success; build extensive databases on student throughput; and to subject the tests to scrutiny (reliability; validity; bias; coherence and internal consistency).
- Provide excellent client services; to organize, arrange, develop and create tests and testing infrastructure (national and international); to provide resulting and reporting information in the areas of access, placement, diagnosis and prediction; and to be efficient, professional, and reliable and offer quick turnarounds.
Essentially, the purpose of CEA is the following:
- To identify talented but educationally disadvantaged students whose schooling might not have allowed them to demonstrate their full ability.
- To contribute to ensuring that students who are identified as having potential in terms of the tests also receive offers of academic places and support (such as academic development opportunities, financial aid, residence places, and so on).
- To contribute to the diagnosis of all incoming students’ academic strengths and weaknesses, in order to feed into the design of learning and teaching support and curriculum development.
- To act as a complementary assessment measure to the school-leaving examination – especially given that the school-leaving certificates, such as that provided through the National Senior Certificate (NSC) and other such bodies, are made up of different school leaving subjects and that scores on these subjects are norm-referenced and often difficult to interpret by the post school education systems.