Various phases of the assessment and validation processes (Part 1)

In this article, we will discuss different phases of validation processes that you should be following in your RTO to ensure you meet regulatory requirements and industry expectations.

Validation of RTO assessment resources

You must validate all your assessment resources to ensure they meet the principles of assessment, rules of evidence, training package requirements, regulatory guidelines and Industry expectations.

Explanation of assessment validation:

Validation is a process of checking that the assessment tools, methods, judgements, evidence and processes to ensure that the training product meets:

  • ​Principles of Assessment – i.e. valid, reliable, flexible and fair
  • Rules of Evidence – i.e. valid, authentic, current and sufficient
  • The judgment made by the trainer/assessor is benchmarked with colleagues or industry experts
  • There is sufficient evidence to support the judgment of the trainer/assessor
  • Whether the requirements of the Training Package or accredited course have been met.

Typical benchmarks used during the validation process include:

  • National training package which are developed by Skills Service Organisations (SSOs)/ Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) and can be found on the website.
  • Units of competency which consist of competency standards and need to be unpacked so that those validating the assessments can compare the actual competency against the tools being validated.
  • Industry standards and consultation will vary, and these standards form the basis of the skills and knowledge required to perform work roles.
  • AQF Guidelines and Framework
  • Information provided to candidates, assessors and third parties
  • Legislation relevant to the assessment such as privacy, health and safety, anti-discrimination, copyright law and so on.

Validation occurs through different stages:

Stage 1: Validation before assessment judgements i.e. pre-validation of assessment resources

Validation before assessment judgements are made; look at the design of the assessment activities, if it meets the training package requirements, how the instructions for tasks or questions are presented and the benchmarks against the learner performance. This is where the mapping is undertaken. You review the assessment tool templates in detail to ensure they are compliant and meet regulatory standards and Industry requirements.

Stage 2: Validation during assessment

Validation during assessment is looking at the actual benchmarking answers or performance the learner has provided, and making a judgement with another assessor, either together or separately. This often is coordinated within assessors who undertake training and assessment of the same vocational area. This process was also known as moderation and always remember prevention is always better than the cure, therefore, any issues identified at stage 1 or stage 2 should be eliminated as soon as possible and gaps should be filled with gap-analysis to ensure your organisation is bullet-proof.

The requirement in the Standards to undertake validation of assessment judgements (post validation) does not prohibit your RTO from undertaking moderation activities, or any other process aimed at increasing the quality of assessment.

Stage 3: Validation post assessment (i.e. post validation)

Validation post assessment concentrates on the learners’ performance and their responses to questions, the actual assessment decision that was made, the task and processes that align to the assessment, any feedback from students, and the reporting processes.

The purpose of this post-assessment validation is to verify the validity and consistency of assessment decisions to bring assessment judgements and standards into alignment.

It is a process that ensures the same standards are applied to all assessment results within the same Unit(s) of Competency. It is an active process in the sense that adjustments to assessor judgements are made to overcome differences in the difficulty of the tool and/or the severity of judgements. It aims to ensure assessors have a common understanding of the unit requirements

It involves checking that your assessment tools have produced valid, reliable, sufficient, current and authentic evidence, enabling RTO to make reasonable judgements that the training package requirements have been met.

(To be continued in the upcoming blogs)

Part 3- How compliance and quality assurance are two separate but intertwined concepts

In this third and final part of our “compliance and quality assurance,” articles, we are continuing to discuss compliance and quality assurance requirements, standards, expectations and the differences between them.

How does quality assurance differ from compliance?

It can be overwhelming trying to keep track of all your organisation’s compliance obligations. That’s why many businesses put programs in place to ensure they can meet their obligations and identify any potential breaches of law, regulations or standards. These programs are often called quality assurance or quality control.

Quality assurance may include documenting your RTO processes and practices, having a specific organisational structure, or putting in place policy framework that guides how your registered training organisation operates. These give your RTO a systematic approach to meeting its professional and legal obligations.

While every business is different, there are some general standards that businesses can be certified in, as developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Although not always essential, following these ISO processes can bring trust and confidence to your staff and clients.

Therefore, when differentiating between quality assurance and compliance, you can consider meeting VQF requirements to meet compliance needs and ISO to meet the quality needs of your organisation.

Putting in place quality assurance measures can benefit your business by:

  • Ensuring you identify potential compliance issues and resolve them quickly
  • Reducing your risk of missing any compliance obligations
  • Improving how your RTO is run and giving your employees more certainty over how to do their job
  • Reducing your risk if your RTO is subject to any legal issues or claims
  • Increasing the efficiency of your RTO because you will be spending less time working out how to do things or fixing mistakes.

Quality assurance is part of running a well-managed registered training organisation.

Do I need to do both compliance and quality assurance?

Compliance is not something you can choose to do; it’s legally required by bodies like ASIC. While quality assurance is not demanded by law, it is good business practice to put programs in place to help you meet your compliance obligations and run your business. Sometimes, Industry stakeholders may even ask your RTO to have quality assurance programs in place.

How to make reasonable adjustment in summative assessments

The concept of ‘reasonable adjustment’ is important and must be considered. This means that the summative assessment process may be modified so that individual participants are not disadvantaged. For example, a learner with a disability, or with issues relating to language, literacy or numeracy may require some adjustment to the assessment process.

In accordance with the Disability Standards for Education (2005), education providers are under a positive obligation to make changes to reasonably accommodate the needs of a learner with a disability. Reasonable adjustments can be made as required, as long as competence is not compromised.

We make changes to reasonably accommodate the needs of learners to ensure:

  • they have the same learning opportunities as other learners.
  • they have the same opportunity to perform and complete assessments as other learners.

For example, such a learner could be asked to demonstrate a work process rather than being asked to explain it in writing.

It is important to always provide the following information to your students, trainers and compliance officers:

  • Students with carer responsibilities, cultural or religious obligations, English as an additional language, disability etc. can request for reasonable adjustments.
  • Please note, academic standards of the unit/course will not be lowered to accommodate the needs of any student, but there is a requirement to be flexible about the way in which it is delivered or assessed.
  • The Disability Standards for Education requires institutions to take reasonable steps to enable the student with a disability to participate in education on the same basis as a student without a disability.
  • Trainer/Assessor must complete the “Reasonable Adjustment Strategies Matrix” to ensure the explanation and correct strategy have been recorded and implemented.
  • Trainer/Assessor must notify the administration/compliance and quality assurance department for any reasonable adjustments made.
  • All evidence and supplementary documentation must be submitted with the assessment pack to the administration/compliance and quality assurance department.

A table has been provided below to list different categories where reasonable adjustments can also be made, possible issues associated with each category and reasonable adjustment strategy that you can apply:

Part 2- How compliance and quality assurance are two separate but intertwined concepts

When we look at the current Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015, the clauses relevant to Registered Training Organisations’ regulatory compliance, the reporting and governance practice, they all clearly underpin good management practices and effective compliance control procedures—and, as a result, the effective functioning and sustainability of RTOs.

These Standards support RTOs to provide high-quality student experiences and learning outcomes.

Under the Standards, RTOs are responsible for:

  • Ensuring authorised Executive Officers and High Managerial Agents meet the Fit and Proper Person requirements and are vested with sufficient authority to ensure the RTO complies with the RTO Standards at all times (clause 7.1)
  • Satisfying financial viability risk assessment: Your RTO is required to present an acceptable level of financial viability risk at all times (this includes any parent entities). ASQA assesses each RTO’s financial viability risk to evaluate the likelihood of business continuity and the RTO’s capacity to achieve quality outcomes, as outlined in the Financial Viability Risk Assessment Requirements 2011. ASQA considers this against the potential for adverse consequences if your entity collapses or becomes unviable and makes a judgement about whether the level of risk is acceptable, unacceptable, or requires additional controls. To enable a preliminary financial viability risk assessment, the initial registration application requires the applicant to provide:
    • a range of financial sustainability information
    • independent certification.

ASQA may also require your RTO to undergo a financial viability risk assessment at any other time. (clause 7.2)

  • Compliance and reporting: The RTO must make sure it complies with the SRTO’s 2015, other Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation and regulatory requirements relevant to its operations, at all times, including where services are being delivered on its behalf. The RTO is required to provide an annual declaration on compliance to confirm whether it:
    1. currently meets the requirements of the Standards across all its scope of registration and has met the requirements of the Standards for all AQF [Australian Qualifications Framework] certification documentation it has issued in the previous 12 months.
    2. has training and assessment strategies and practices in place that ensure that all current and prospective learners will be trained and assessed in accordance with the requirements of the Standards.

RTOs are also required to make sure its staff and clients are informed of any changes to legislative and regulatory requirements that affect the services delivered. (clauses 2.1 and 8.4 to 8.6)

  • Recording, monitoring and reporting third-party arrangements: All third-party arrangements must have a written agreement, the RTO must have sufficient strategies and resources to systematically monitor any services delivered on its behalf, and notifies the Regulator:
  1. of any written agreement entered into under clause 2.3 for the delivery of services on its behalf within 30 calendar days of that agreement being entered into or prior to the obligations under the agreement taking effect, whichever occurs first, and
  2. within 30 calendar days of the agreement coming to an end.  (clauses 2.3, 2.4 and 8.3)
  • Holding public liability insurance: RTOs are responsible for ensuring they hold public liability insurance throughout their registration period. Your RTO must hold public liability insurance to cover all training and/or assessment activities it provides as an RTO. (clause 7.4)
  • Meeting Data Provision Requirements:

RTOs are responsible for providing accurate information about their performance and governance in accordance with clause 7.5.
The Data Provision Requirements outline information that your RTO is required to submit. Apart from information required with applications, this falls generally into two categories:
Australian Vocational Education and Training Management Information Statistical Standard (AVETMISS) data

Quality Indicator Data.

Data such as national training activity is very important—this informs decision-making about policies and funding for the national VET system and allows measurement of the system’s performance.

The quality indicator data provides information for RTOs about their students’ experiences of their services and can be used to continuously improve the quality of the training for students and employers. (clause 7.5)

Providing requested information to ASQA:

RTOs are responsible for:

  • Cooperating with ASQA
  • Ensuring any third party delivering services on the RTO’s behalf is required to cooperate with ASQA.

Your RTO and any third parties delivering services on your behalf must cooperate with ASQA in responding to requests for information, undergoing audits and managing records. The information you and third parties provide to ASQA must be accurate, truthful and authentic. Any documentation provided at audit must be an accurate representation of your RTO’s practices.

You must notify ASQA within 90 days of the following:

  • Changes to executive officers or high managerial agents
  • Changes to financial administration status (e.g. liquidators being appointed)
  • Changes to legal name or type of legal entity
  • Changes to ownership, directorship or control (including changes to parent entities)
  • Significant mergers or associations with other RTOs
  • Registration (or application) with other education regulators (e.g. higher education provider with the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency)
  • Anything that may affect the fit and proper person status of an influential representative of the RTO
  • Changes to any fundamental funding/revenue source (e.g. access to or loss of government funding contract allocation)
  • Changes to the RTO’s business strategy (e.g. more to online delivery, assessment-only delivery, offshore delivery)
  • Delivery to apprentices or trainees employed under a training contract
  • Any other significant event.

(clauses 8.1 and 8.2).

In the next post we will look into the “quality assurance” requirements and obligations for your RTO.

To be continued…

The role of trainer in a training organisation

Trainers don’t just train. They listen, they learn, they plan, they adapt, they help, they soothe, they challenge and they tolerate. Students expect all this, and often more besides. But, for a Trainer to be effective at training, they must be very clear about what is most important. Fortress Learning gave it some thought and came up with the following list – it is not everything, but it captures what they believe the most important things are. And it doesn’t matter if it is the Cert IV TAE or Diploma of Business or something entirely different, if we get this right, then we have the best chance of success.

Adapted and shared with the permission from Fortress Learning. Reference