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Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) staff can see the value of independent validation of assessment as part of a training system striving for quality. Those interviewed in this project would welcome reforms that foster excellence and professionalism. Such change would not, however, require abandoning the current systems. What is favoured is bringing assessment and certification to the fore of training package development, implementation and adjustment, with less onerous validation processes helping to inform improvements.

This report seeks to deepen understanding of the persistent issues registered training organisations (RTOs) encounter when conducting independent moderation and validation of assessments, and of the nature of industry involvement in these processes. The report achieves this by drawing on the findings from semi-structured interviews with public, private and community RTOs in urban and regional settings.

The research is accompanied by two support documents:

  1. a literature review containing an annotated timeline, spanning 2001 to 2020
  2. a desktop investigation of validation and moderation approaches in the United Kingdom, Europe and New Zealand

Key messages:

  • Independent validation of assessment is driven by regulatory requirements, which can generate a compliance mentality, leading to over-assessment, but not necessarily better assessment practices or improved training.
  • Validation can play a constructive role in RTO governance and continuous improvement, although the associated terminology is not universally understood or used consistently, and the reporting burden is considered onerous.
  • Compliance and good business practice drive ongoing relationships between RTOs and employers. Integrating validation into these relationships is viewed as potentially more constructive than any formal validation role for employers, especially since many, particularly those in small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), see validation as the responsibility of the RTO.
  • Validation has the potential to bridge the gap between training package requirements and industry realities, given the latter often evolves more quickly than the training package.
  • Where moderation does occur, it is primarily used to benchmark assessments across an organisation rather than as a measure of consistency with other organisation’s assessment results.
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