Assessment - Are You Up To Date With The New Statutory Definitions?

Mar 20 2016 0 Comments

As Assessors we know that assessment must comply with the benchmark criteria and assessment requirements of the relevant training package or VET accredited course and be conducted in accordance with the principles of assessment and the rules of evidence but are you up to date with the legal changes to what these terms mean?

The Standards for Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) 2015 defines the principles of assessment, the rules of evidence and what it means to be competent and so when designing assessment processes (incorporating the methods and tools that will be used), conducting assessment and collecting evidence and making judgements on the evidence gathered from those assessment processes we must have our attention focussed on these new statutory definitions.

The principles of assessment are now defined in Table 1.8.1 of standard one.

The assessment process must be fair.

The individual candidate’s needs must be considered in the assessment process. Where appropriate, reasonable adjustments should be applied to take into account the individual candidate’s needs (such as providing oral rather than written assessment provided that the rigour of the assessment process is not compromised) and candidates should be fully informed about the assessment process and performance expectations prior to the assessment being undertaken and provided with the opportunity to challenge the result of the assessment and be reassessed if necessary.

If a candidate is unable to complete a required task consider if they need further training before being reassessed. The enrolment process should identify the needs of candidates and avoid candidates being enrolled in courses that they will not be able to complete.

The assessment process must be flexible.

The assessment process must reflect the candidate’s needs, assess competencies held by the candidate no matter how or where they were acquired, and draw from a range of assessment methods and use those that are appropriate to the context, the unit of competency and associated assessment requirements and the individual.

Assessment can be tailored to meet individual needs provided that the integrity of the unit and rules required to be followed are not compromised. 

The assessment process must be valid.

The final assessment decision must be justified, based on the evidence of performance of the individual candidate. Assessment must be against the unit(s) of competency and the associated assessment requirements and cover the broad range of skills and knowledge that are essential to competent performance. Assessment of knowledge and skills must be integrated with their practical application. Assessment must be based on evidence that demonstrates that the candidate could demonstrate those skills and knowledge in other similar situations. The judgement of competence must be based on evidence of the candidate’s performance that is aligned to the unit/s of competency and associated assessment requirements.

The assessment process must be able to capture evidence of skills and knowledge across a range of environments and contexts relevant to the unit or module.

The assessment process must be reliable.

The evidence presented for assessment must be consistently interpreted and the assessment results must be comparable irrespective of the assessor conducting the assessment.

The decision making rules, marking guides, and quality check and review validation activity help assessors to make consistent judgements internally and amongst themselves.

The rules of evidence are now defined in Table 1.8.2 of standard one.

The evidence collected must be valid.

The evidence must show that the candidate has the skills, knowledge and attributes as described in the module or unit of competency and associated assessment requirements.

Assessors are to use their own professional judgement in determining if all of the essential components of a module or unit of competency are established by the evidence that has been presented based on the accepted level of performance that has been agreed upon through moderation and validation activity.

The evidence collected must be sufficient.

The quality, quantity and relevance of the assessment evidence must enable a judgment to be made of a learner’s competency.

Competency is defined now in the Glossary to the Standards as: the consistent application of knowledge and skill to the standard of performance required in the workplace. It embodies the ability to transfer and apply skills and knowledge to new situations and environments.

The evidence collected must be authentic.

The evidence presented for assessment must be the candidate’s own work.

Ensure that the evidence gathered ‘belongs’ to the candidate being assessed and provides evidence of that person’s skills and knowledge. Verify that the person you are enrolling, training and assessing is the same person that will be issued with the qualification or statement of attainment.

The evidence collected must be current.

The assessment evidence must demonstrate current competency. It must be from the present or the very recent past.

Decide how valid the evidence is given the time that has passed since the evidence was generated. Currency is a particular risk with recognition of prior learning as you may be presented with a range of evidence gathered over a number of years. Some skills are more perishable than others and will require more recent evidence of performance. Ask yourself, ‘have there been any material changes in this industry since then and does this evidence clearly show that it is likely that the candidate can still demonstrate this across a range of contexts to the standard expected in the workplace?’. You can challenge test evidence from the past by asking probing questions about the associated content and process and by asking for partial or full re-demonstration of practical skills.

The natural conflict between the principles and the rules

After a while of applying the principles and rules in practice new assessors will soon gain an appreciation for the natural conflict that exists amongst the principles and the rules.

RPL Evidence gathered and relied upon can often result in decisions amongst assessors that are inconsistent (not only in relation to their interpretation of the unit or module benchmark criteria but also in relation to their judgement as to which assessment methods should be used and the extent to which each of those selected assessment methods should be used).

RTOs should have clear decision making rules and multiple examples of acceptable performance to help ensure that the assessment processes and practices are reliable.

There is also a risk in relation to authenticity and currency for evidence that has not been gathered in front of the assessor. A student might complain that their assessor is being unfair and inflexible by asking them to participate in a challenge assessment when they have already produced evidence of their abilities yet the onus is still there on the assessor to ensure that the evidence collected is authentic and current.

RTOs should make it clear to students prior to enrolment that their assessors have flexibility and discretion in selecting assessment methods and evidence gathering techniques to assess each unit of competency so that these can be efficient, cost effective and tailored to meet the varying needs of each candidate and can ensure that valid, authentic, reliable, current and sufficient evidence is collected.

Michael Mead 20 March 2016

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