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TAFE NSW confirms assessment of the off-the-job component of a UoC, is graded

uensw  > News headlines >  TAFE NSW confirms assessment of the off-the-job component of a UoC, is graded

The NSW UE ITAB in its previous News Services’ has highlighted industry’s preference and requirement for RTOs to formally report the results of an apprentice’s off-the-job (knowledge and skills) competent of a Unit of Competency in a graded (percentage) form.  This preference and requirement is reflected in the Assessment Guidelines and units of competency of the UEE11 Electrotechnology and ESI-Transmission, Distribution and Rail (UET) Training Packages.

Over the past few months, the ITAB has been engaged in a series of communication exchanges with ASQA in relation to this matter.  In the most recent response, ASQA confirmed the decision and responsibility for assessment rested with RTOs.  ASQA advised that it did not require a 100% result of a unit of competency.  The responsibility to determine competent performance against a unit of competency was that of an RTOs.  Provided it had implemented appropriate assessment processes and practices that ensured observance of the principles of assessment and rules of evidence, specifically sufficiency of evidence, then the decision to confer competency on a candidate rested with an RTO.

Given this context, the ITAB also communicated with TAFE NSW on the same matter, recognising that in the past for same Training Packages, TAFE NSW formally reported the formal grade percentage results of an apprentice’s off-the-job (knowledge and skills) achievement.  This was, in addition to the issuance of a Statement of Attainment for the unit of competency when the final on-the-job component was met, as per the AQF transcript issuance requirements.  Most recently, it had decided as part of its internal systems to no longer comply with the Assessment Guidelines of the Electrotechnology Training Package.  That is, to formally report the off-the-job achievement. 

Notably, it acknowledges in its latest response to the ITAB, letter attached of 14th April 2020, that in fact it mandates, a graded assessment process for the off-the-job (knowledge and skills) component of a unit of competency, setting a minimum threshold of “60 per cent pass rate in the knowledge assessment”, and then “provides a range of further opportunities for students to demonstrate their competency, should they not initially demonstrate that they are able to meet the requirements of a unit”. 

In addition, it states, “… the teacher will either individually or as a class group, provide the required feedback for the students to answer the incorrect questions and reassess the students orally to allow them further opportunity to demonstrate competence.”

The commentary clearly establishes that TAFE NSW is not familiar with the details and workings of the ESI-Transmission, Distribution and Rail (UET) and Electrotechnology (UEE) Training Packages, which intrinsically have two key components of evidence required for assessment – off-the-job and on-the-job.  Some units of competency have more off-the-job requirements and others have more on-the-job requirements.  Notwithstanding, there should always be at least two sources of evidence gathered and reviewed, as detailed in the units of competency and Assessment Guidelines. 

Instead, it has established its own policy approach, as stated in its letter, that “TAFE NSW operates in accordance with the standards and the requirements of competency based training where students need to demonstrate they ‘hold all of the required skills and knowledge specified in the unit assessment requirements’.”  The principles of competency-based training are not in question, what is in question is why the RTO is not complying with the requirements of a Training Package and its endorsed components, namely the units of competency and the Assessment Guidelines as the standard reference document for implementing assessment practices and decisions. 

More detailed analysis of the educational value or otherwise of the TAFE NSW approach, to provide an open learning activity with teachers for an apprentice that falls short of achieving a 100% result, by openly aiding and abetting a learner to achieve a 100% result post a certain threshold appears to be more about appeasing Quality Assurance processes, than good educational practice.  It is a bizarre approach and best left to future deliberations and actions. 

Suffice to state, that TAFE NSW evinces in its letter that it has in place a graded assessment system for the off-the-job component of the ESI-Transmission, Distribution and Rail (UET) and Electrotechnology (UEE) Training Packages – units of competency, which the industry supports.  All that is needed, to do to satisfy the industry, is to formally report this raw score in percentage terms, to the apprentice and employer.  What ensues is a matter for TAFE NSW and further dialogue with the stakeholders as per RTO standards, clauses 1.5 and 1.6 – Engage with industry

Given TAFE NSW have confirmed in its letter, that it has in place an implicit graded assessment system for the off-the-job component of UEE and UET apprenticeship programs, the ITAB will pursue a series of avenues to ensure TAFE NSW formalises the raw graded result reporting of an apprentice’s achievement to the apprentice and the employer.

For more information, please feel free to contact Tony Palladino on 04 3739 6363 or