There are four Principles of Assessment – Reliability, Fairness, Flexibility and Validity. In our previous Blogs we discussed the Principles of Reliability, Fairness and Flexibility. Here we are to discuss the Principle of Validity.
Perhaps this last principle of assessment should have been discussed first, as it is so important. Validity means that the assessment process assesses what it claims to assess – i.e. the unit of competency or cluster of units.
The assessment tool must address all requirements of the unit to sufficient depth and over a sufficient number of times to confirm repeatability of performance.
The unit of competency is the benchmark for assessment. The assessment must adhere strictly to its requirements.
- Nothing from the unit must be omitted from assessment
- Nothing must be required over and above the unit requirements.
The assessment instruments that make up the tool need to be designed so that:
- the outcomes and performance requirements of the unit are addressed
- the broad range of skills and knowledge that are essential to competent performance are addressed
- assessment of knowledge and skills is integrated with their practical application
In order to ensure validity, each assessment instrument should be mapped back to the unit. It is not an absolute requirement to include the mapping in the instrument but it is strongly recommended, as the mapping provides guidance for the assessor.
One assessment instrument alone is unlikely to address all of the knowledge and performance requirements of a unit of competency. This is why several assessment instruments are gathered together to make up an assessment tool.
Assessment tools must be validated prior to use and at least every three years thereafter. This is a requirement of the RTO Standards. Validation involves a meeting between assessors, and the first step is to re-map all of the instruments to the unit requirements. It also involves checking that the tool meets the requirements of the other three principles of assessment and the rules of evidence.
It is not possible to create a valid assessment tool unless you refer to the unit requirements during development. If you fail to do so, the tasks you design might not relate directly to the unit. You may be requiring something from the candidate which is outside the parameters of the unit. Alternatively, you may miss a requirement and your tool will be non-compliant.
As trainers and assessors within the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, it is important that we not only understand the Principles of Assessment but that we also apply the Principles of Assessment when designing and developing assessment tools and conducting assessment. TAEASS502 Design and Develop Assessment Tools is a core unit in the TAE40116 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and TAE50116 Diploma of Vocational Education and Training.
Written by Sandy Welton
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