The VET industry continues to be plagued by concerns about poor assessment practices. The root cause of poor assessment practice is attributed to a variety of causes including: lack of adequate systems to ensure consistency across providers (Misko 2015); unacceptably low levels of assessment literacy (Gillies et al 2010); inadequacy of the TAE40110 (Misko 2015); low level skills of candidates (Halliday-Wynes and Misko 2013); pressure of fast-track qualifications and lack of systematic and regular moderation and validation (Misko et al 2014).
My personal experience and observation as an ASQA auditor is that it is common for RTOs to have abundant evidence of validation activities, and yet present assessment materials that are critically non-compliant. This suggests a curious disconnect between validation activities and the development of quality assessment materials, and indicates that while validation may be happening it is far from “systematic”. This disconnect lends weight to calls for a shift in focus from validation for compliance purposes to validation for continuous improvement purposes (Gillis et al 2010).
The definition and understanding of the concept of “systematic validation” as required by the Standards for Nationally Regulated RTOs 2012 (SNR) was clearly an elusive concept. The Standards for Registered Training Organisations 2015 (SRTOs 2015) detail more proscriptive requirements for RTOs with regard to planning and managing validation. What is yet to be determined is whether these more proscriptive requirements will have any impact on the quality of validation activities occurring in RTOs.
I will be conducting research in 2016 to determine whether the new standards have changed the perceptions of trainers and assessors with regard to validation. I will be blogging regularly regarding the research process and findings so stay tuned!