Validation: Is this more than cross-checking mapping?

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Currently there is a lot of activity around RTOs requesting assistance with validation of assessment leading up to the 1 April 2020 deadline. Therefore, this post is an explanation of some ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ on this topic.

A comment I hear frequently is “isn’t validation a process of checking the mapping of the tool against the unit?”. Well yes, that is part of the process, but there is much more to the process that we need to remember to include – both for meeting the requirements of the Standards for RTOs 2015, and for following tried and tested processes for assessment validation that have been detailed in many publications over the years, including a number of documents published by the National Quality Council that still apply today. If you haven’t seen these before, have a read of:

(Note there are also other similar government publications in this area)

What are the areas to include in the validation process?

Of course, mapping the tools that have been used is a good place to start to ensure there is coverage of the unit of competency and its associated assessment requirements. Mapping may also include additional requirements outlined by the training product such as mandatory work placement hours, or other conditions of assessment such as use of equipment. It needs to be ensured that all requirements of the training product have been met. While mapping itself is not a requirement of the standards, it assists in ensuring validity of assessment tools (one of the principles of assessment) to meet the requirements of Clause 1.8 of the Standards for RTOs 2015.

We need to look beyond mapping at other areas related to the principles of assessment and rules of evidence. This will examine areas such as:

  • Are the task instructions to the assessor and the learner clear?
  • Will the instructions and tasks provided ensure consistent application?
  • Is it clear what evidence will be collected?
  • Is the assessment current with industry expectations and reflective of workplace practices?
  • Are there appropriate decision-making rules outlined for the assessor to ensure reliability?
  • Are there options for reasonable adjustment to be applied (and in the case of examining the statistical sample of student work, is there evidence of appropriate adjustments?)

Other assessment and validation processes include:

  • What are the administrative reporting and recording requirements for the tools?
  • What is the process for determining a statistically valid sample and has this been followed?

The above is not an exhaustive list of what should be covered in a validation process, but it is a good starting point. It should also be noted that according to the Standards for RTOs 2015 validation must be undertaken by one or more persons who meet the credential, competence and currency requirements outlined in Clause 1.11. Ensure you select your person/people who are validator/s carefully as you are entrusting them to make informedcommentary on your assessments and judgements. If they do not understand the process effectively then the commentary and recommendations may not be sufficient or accurate.

Using detailed checklists to guide your validators through the process is also essential to ensure no area is overlooked. An experienced validator will provide comments throughout rather than taking a tick and flick approach. This is not a process for short-cuts as it relates directly to outcomes for learners and the quality of judgements being made by your RTO.

For more information on validation please contact us at and/or refer to the following publications: