There are four Principles of Assessment – Reliability, Fairness, Flexibility and Validity. In our previous Blog we discussed the Principle of Reliability. Here we discuss Fairness. This will be followed by additional Blogs which will discuss the remaining Principles of Assessment.
Principle of Fairness
Assessment is fair when the assessment process is clearly understood by candidates and agreed by both assessors and candidates and when candidates’ needs and characteristics are addressed.
Fairness is one of the four Principles of Assessment. When writing assessment instruments to make up an assessment tool, you need to build fairness into the tool.
Understood and agreed by the candidate
The assessment tool should provide evidence that the assessment process has been explained to the candidate, that they understand and agree to the process. This instrument should be signed by the candidate at the commencement of the assessment process.
This instrument can also provide an area for the assessor to confirm that they have checked whether the candidate needs any LLN support or whether they consider an accelerated progression with only gap training is appropriate for the candidate:
Addressing candidate’s needs
You can assume that a qualified assessor is familiar with the Principles of Assessment and competent to apply them in their assessment practice. However, it is recommended to remind the assessor of how to apply this principle in relation to reasonable adjustment.
The following wording is provided as guidance for your assessor:
If the candidate has special needs which require reasonable adjustments, then you, the assessor, must ensure that you have:
- Reviewed the unit requirements and determined that adjustments will not compromise the outcome.
- Determined the adjustments to be made, in consultation with the candidate and, if necessary, a specialist.
- Clearly documented the adjustments made as part of the assessment record, in sufficient detail to enable another qualified assessor to make a judgement of competency.
- Ensured that you protect the candidate’s right to privacy and confidentiality in relation to any personal information such as medical conditions, and where personal information needs to be recorded, gained the candidate’s consent in writing.
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
Please post your thoughts below on the Principle of Fairness.
I thought Beth put it well when she said “Allowing for variation in learning capabilities but still achieving a competent outcome is important to provide a fair platform for all.”. I agree.
The Principle of Fairness is a vital part of the assessment strategy. It means that the needs of the assessor and the learner are met and agreed upon before starting any task. It also looks at the learner to see if any reasonable adjustments need to be applied.
Making sure that the assessment process is clearly understood by the candidate is very important as a Principle of Fairness. Then discussing any adjustment or extra support that may be required.
Allowing for variation in learning capabilities but still achieving a competent outcome is important to provide a fair platform for all.
Such an important space for us all to ensure consideration of learners needs and characteristics and to ensure that everyone understands what is expected. It avoids later confusion and messy outcomes.
The principle of fairness is making sure everyone is on the same page! Assessment is only fair when the candidate clearly understands what learning expectations are required of them and also what the assessment involves. The candidates and the assessors must all agree to the these terms. In order to avoid setting a candidate up for failure, reasonable adjustments can be made.
The knowledge and understanding of the importance of the principle of fairness and correct application of it is paramount. Assessment is fair when the assessment process is clearly understood by candidates and agreed by both assessors and candidates and when candidates’ needs and characteristics are addressed.
Clearly defined principles and procedures ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them, what the process involves, and the rights and responsibilities of all concerned. Not only does this aid clarity prior to commencing, it creates an environment where support can be given to those that require it, without damaging the integrity of the assessment process. It aids inclusion and also reduces the likelihood of conflict or disagreement.
The Principle of Fairness must always be front of mind for assessors when designing and creating assessment tools. It is critical that the learner’s individual needs are met and understood by the assessor, they have access to key information around RPL/CT, Reasonable adjustment and any other requirements to ensure the assessment process is fair and agreed upon by both parties.
The Principle of Fairness is an integral part of the assessment strategy, it means that both the assessor and the learners needs are met and agreed upon by both, before the task starts taking into account characteristics of the learner and if any reasonable adjustment needs to apply.
It makes sense for everyone involved in the learning and assessment process to be aware of, and agree to, it. To do anything else would be unfair.
The principle of fairness is a necessary part of the assessment process to ensure that all candidates have equitable access to learning and succeeding.
The principle of fairness is an essential part of the assessment method to ensure equal opportunity for all candidates. It has to involve clear communication between the candidate and assessor to ensure that reasonable adjustment is applied where it’s needed so that the candidate is not disadvantaged in any way.
As assessors we must strive to create assessments that do not discriminate or favor any group of learners, taking into consideration all learner’s needs and characteristics.
The principle of Fairness is important to ensure that all learners are able to actively engage with and understand the tool/instruments and the assessment process. Ensuring that all instruments are easy to understand is vital in providing fair opportunity to all participants. Reasonable adjustment supports fair opportunity for participants with a disability but can only be implemented when all unit requirements can still be met.
The Principle of Fairness is an essential equalizer in training and assessment. It allows for all candidates to be assessed on a level playing field. No person should be at a disadvantage due to disability, and if reasonable adjustments can be made, they absolutely must be employed. Just as people aren’t standardized, neither are candidates, and so nor should be assessments.
After completing TAEASS502 I’ve observed that fairness as an ideal that underpins all four assessment principles. As a stand-alone principle, it is my favourite because it creates an equal playing field for all candidates and ensures that assessors are applying assessment tools consistently. As stated at the beginning of this article “Assessment is fair when the assessment process is clearly understood by candidates and agreed by both assessors and candidates and when candidates’ needs and characteristics are addressed”.
Fairness allows for the development of individuals. Working on a principle that not all persons are created the same should create a system that not all assessments need be the same just require the same knowledge and skill base. this allows for a greater diversity thereby increasing the knowledge available to the employer/sector the skill relates to.
The principles of assessment are in my opinion a great way for both the assessor and student to engage in the VET learning process. The principle of fairness makes it clear and easy to understand the process in which the student can engage in learning. The students’ needs are understood and if any reasonable adjustment needs to be made then it is and agreed upon by the student and assessor. The student agrees when the characteristics are addressed this allows the student to potentially engage more deeply in the assessments and the learning process.
I like the use of the four principles of assessment and find they are an excellent guideline for the development and provision of meaningful assessments. Ensuring students fully understand the expectations prior to starting an assessment and the assessor is clear about any support to be provided, creates a stronger foundation for learning. When we are involved in the process, we approach a task with more enthusiasm ands confidence and the application of fairness is a positive starting point.
An assessment is fair when the candidate understands what is required of them to gain and demonstrate competency, and when any special needs the candidate has that requires reasonable adjustment is taken into account. It is essential that the candidate is not set up to fail.
It is important the assessor ensures that the unit and outcome will not be compromised, by making reasonable adjustments to the assessment tool (where required) and by treating everyone equally this can be achieved, ensuring an assessment is fair. The principle of fairness provides a way, regardless of the candidates disadvantages or differences, that everyone is given equal opportunity to an education.
The Principle of Fairness is of upmost importance. Without it, a candidate could easily find themselves in a learning situation that was not contextualised for them, and would struggle to achieve competency fairly.
I feel that fairness is essential, as we all have unique abilities and ways of learning.
I think the principle of fairness provides the candidate with the opportunity to understand the assessment process and ask any questions or seek adjustments before they start of the process. This should help in setting the candidate up for success in their studies
The principle of fairness is a way of ensuring everyone is being given an equal opportunity despite their differences or disadvantages they are facing. It is acknowledging that no two people will think the same or learn the same and some students will require extra assistance. But despite these differences, all candidates should have an equal opportunity to succeed. Reasonable adjustment should be applied to those students who have special needs.
My view on Fairness seems that is very important to treat each case on its own merit and that no two candidates are alike. I agree with Sandys response to Eileen’s comments on two points particularly that 1. We must set candidates up for success and that we must by crystal clear on the expectations, as we become more experienced this will become more a natural process.
Ensuring that Fairness is candidate centric so that all students can furnishes the ability for them to become competent and also lends itself to at times required to engage with our piers for such things as LLN or what we have created matches the candidates requirements and the expectations as we have explained that to them and ensuring reasonable adjustment must be kept in mind for a multitude of reasons.
That assessments should meet the Principle of Fairness simply reflects that education should be for everyone.
Eileen, I love the way that you bring things down to the basics. This is so true. Of course, the way that we have to implement this principle is a lot more complicated. in order to be fair to the candidate we must first enrol them for the right training that will fit them for a job they can do. It’s essential not to set them up to fail and give them false hope that they will gain employment in an area where we know this isn’t true.
Then, when conducting assessment, we must be sure that the candidate understands what is expected of them. We must make sure we are not expecting anything over and above the unit requirements. We must treat each candidate the same – no prejudice – no favouritism. We also need to make sure the candidate understands and knows their right of appeal.
All of this applies to every candidate. When they have special needs we also have to take these into account and make reasonable adjustments. Sometimes it’s difficult to work out what’s “reasonable” so that’s when we would ask a lead assessor for their opinion.
The principle of fairness ensures that everyone has equal opportunity to access training and receive the associated qualification. It ensures learners that need extra assistance are not disadvantaged in this process. It is an important part of the principles of assessment.
The Principal of Fairness when applied to Competency Based Training makes perfect sense to me in terms of reasonable adjustment. When reasonable adjustment is applied, it is important to note the word reasonable, especially considering that adjustment cannot be made that will compromise the integrity of the unit or create undue hardship for the RTO. Within these parameters, the principal of fairness and reasonable adjustments do nothing but create an environment where everyone ends up on a level playing field.
I, too, struggle with Reasonable Adjustment within the principle of fairness, particularly within my field. Candidates for the role that I am involved with training must speak English fluently, and have excellent written communication and comprehension skills. They must also have excellent hearing and vision to perform the task, and must have full use of both arms and at least one leg to be able to perform at the speeds required. Given this, I’m not sure how Reasonable Adjustment for assessment would apply in my line of work.
The Principle of Fairness, is an important element in ensuring fair access to training for a varied cohort of learners. Together with reliability, flexibility and validity it guides the management of reasonable adjustment to assessment tools, allowing demonstrations of competency to be individualised where appropriate, and at the same time ensuring integrity of assessment and a comprehensive record of the adjustments so that they can be understood and if necessary duplicated by any assessor.
It is important to understand all the Principles of Assessment. With regard to the Principle of Fairness, we must ensure we demonstrate impartial and just treatment for all our students. Providing clear instructions and details for a successful outcome with assessments, being sure not to include additional requirements beyond the competency benchmarks. To be fair, assessors need to ensure they explain the support available, right to appeal and how to do so and provide feedback and the provision to be reassessed. It is also important that assessors recognise either prior knowledge and skills of the candidate, apply reasonable adjustments or provide LLN support if needed to enable the candidate to progress to competency.
The Principle of Fairness makes perfect sense to me, considering that people have different levels of understanding and different needs. What may be clear and reasonable to one person may be difficult to understand by another, particularly if that student has specific needs of an LLN issue.
Following the Principle of Fairness seems to be a good way to cover the needs of both assessor and candidate, as it makes sure that each party understands and agrees to the assessment. Reasonable adjustment ensures that candidates have a more level playing field so that their competence can be assessed without unfairly being disadvantaged by rigid rules and methodologies.
I understand the the concept of the Principle of Fairness. However I struggle with its application regarding this idea of reasonable adjustment, it keeps popping up and I’m not entirely sure how it can be applied. Units are very clear in the Criteria, Performance Evidence and Knowledge Evidence required to be competent; does reasonable adjust mean these are up for negotiation?
Fairness is an important part of the assessment process to ensure that the candidate is fully aware of what they need to do to achieve competence. It is also important that the candidate is aware of their rights and the support available to them.
Fairness in this context also means that assessment should be objective and inclusive, free from discrimination and bias and that reasonable adjustments should be made possible to achieve this.
The Principle of Fairness makes perfect sense, especially considering that all people have different levels of understanding and different needs. What may be clear and reasonable to one person may be difficult to understand by another, particularly if that student has specific needs or an LLN issue.
To give all students reasonable opportunity to fulfill the requirements of the unit or course supports them and makes it fair for all.
Fairness in assessment means that consideration of individual candidate’s needs and characteristics, and any reasonable adjustments that are required can be considered. The relationship must be include clear
communication between the assessor and the candidate to make sure that the candidate is
completely aware of, understands and is able to participate in, the assessment process. Then they agree that the process is fair or appropriate. Part of the process includes an opportunity for the person
being assessed to challenge the result of the assessment and to be reassessed if
By taking all necessary precautions, the candidate and assessor ensure that the process is fair for both parties.