A quality assessment tool consists of a number of components. Each one designed to meet particular conditions that ultimately ensure the tool meets the principles of assessments and rules of evidence.

To ensure the tool is Valid, we use a mapping matrix that carefully connects each piece of evidence to the training specification we’re using. This is usually the unit of competency. When we’re developing each assessment instrument, we create questions, activities, observations, and other documents that collect evidence that demonstrates the learner’s competency across ALL areas of the training specification. From the performance criteria and assessment conditions, to the foundation skills and dimensions of competency.

A reliable assessment tool is one that can be used multiple times in multiple contexts and still produce the same expected outcomes, regardless of who is assessing the learner. Reliability can be checked by ensuring the Assessor’s marking guide is clear and accurate. We also use version control to make sure assessors are using the most up to date version of the assessment.

Flexibility and fairness are demonstrated by having clear instructions to both the assessor and the assessment candidate. For example, if reasonable adjustments are required for a learner with specific needs, the instructions should state how the assessor and candidate can accommodate the needs while still adhering to the principle of validity.

Authenticity of the tool is achieved a combination of items. Firstly, the assessment should have a cover page that gathers the student’s information and signature which acknowledges that the work is theirs. In electronic assessments, this can be enhanced through the use of password-protected assessment submissions and the use of plagiarism software to check the work.

The currency of evidence is vital when assessing a person’s ability to meet industry workplace needs. RTOs provide guidelines of what is considered current or not current, and this can be gathered by having evidence dated and authenticated. Again, the use of a verifiable signature and date on any evidence ensures that it has been gathered in accordance with those guidelines.

Sufficient evidence is that which meets the minimum requirements of the training specification. This may mean that some tasks need to be performed multiple times. A quality assessment instrument will allow for this, for example, by having multiple observations of some tasks, and having this clearly explained in the instructions.

Lastly, the assessment system must ensure that all evidence is stored accurately and in a timely fashion. This means that secure, protected learning management systems are in place that keep student details private, and that can be accessed by authorised RTO staff for the purposes of assessment and student support.

So, in summary, a quality tool will have the following six components:

1. Assessment administration guidelines

2. Assessor’s marking guide

3. A Mapping matrix

4. Assessment instruments to gather the evidence

5. Instructions to the assessor

6. Instructions to the candidate

The principles of assessment are – validity, reliability, flexibility and fairness. And the rules of evidence are validity, authenticity, currency and sufficiency.

Dr Dan Hill

Director of Spectraining