When talking about validation one of the most common questions asked is what is the difference between validation and moderation and should we be doing both?
The new Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 (SRTOs 2015) have very specific requirements around validation, but moderation is not mentioned. The standards specify that validation of assessment judgements is required (clause 1.9) and this requirement has caused a some confusion regarding the difference between validation and moderation with many people wrongly thinking that validation of assessment judgements is moderation.
For my definitions and understanding of these two concepts I refer back to the 2009 National Quality Council publication called A Code of Professional Practice for Validation and Moderation. You can download the document from the NCVER Voced database. This publication has a useful table on page 7 that summarises the distinctive features of both validation and moderation.
I think the easiest way to explain the difference between validation and moderation is to think about purpose and the outcome of the activity.
Validation is a quality review process conducted for the purpose of continuous improvement. The outcome of Validation is recommendations for future improvements.
Moderation on the other hand is a quality control process that occurs prior to the final assessment decision being made. It is a process whereby assessors “moderate” their assessment decisions and come to a consensus decision about competence of a candidate.
The outcome of moderation may be adjustments to the assessor’s decision.
Validation of assessment judgements involves reviewing the outcomes of assessment (eg students’ work) and reviewing the assessment decision that was made. The outcome of validation of assessment judgements may be recommendations for improvements to the assessment materials, assessment processes or perhaps professional development for the assessor. The difference between validation of assessment judgements and moderation is that validation of assessment judgements happens after the student results have been finalised while moderation happens prior to the student results being finalised.
In VET moderation is not as common as is validation. In LLN provision however, moderation has been a common practice for many years.
The Standards for RTOs 2015 and the AQTF do not specify that RTOs undertake moderation, however this is no reason why moderation would not be part of your assessment system.
If you have not already had enough of validation, moderation and validation of assessment judgements you can read more on the ASQA Fact Sheet, Conducting Validation