Following on from the previous post, we will consider the final stages of the RPL process. This is where the evidence is checked against the appropriate benchmark to determine if it meets the Rules of Evidence for the scope of the RPL application, while as a process maintaining its integrity in the relevant aspects of the Principles of Assessment.
As you consider the decisions being made within the process at these points, it is easier to see how a clear and informed understanding of not just the process, but the intended outcome have a very real impact upon the effectiveness of how RPL is conducted and an accurate determination of competence made. So after collecting the evidence, the next stage is to assess.
The determine stage can at times be somewhat fluid, with its boundaries not being consistently defined within fixed conclusive parameters. While working through the collect and assess stages, there may be aspects of the process that are more accurately defined as being a part of the determine stage. This overlapping approach is able to be applied effectively by Assessors who have a well-rounded understanding of the requirements of the Unit of Competence, associated regulations, legislation, industry/enterprise standards and practices, and Client’s needs. The purpose of this stage is to ensure all of the ‘i’s are dotted and the ‘t’s are crossed within the evidence as measured against the requirements of the Unit of Competence before making a decision on the competence of the Client. Once these points have been covered and the evidence is deemed to meet the requirements of the Unit of Competence and dimensions of the rules of evidence, a determination that is consistent with the principles of assessment can be made. Competent, or not yet competent? That is the question.
Determination processes can be supported through moderation (professional judgement), where the submissions of evidence and any recorded demonstrations are able to be considered by other experienced Assessors to ensure a fair and accurate determination is provided.
During the determination stage, feedback to and from the Client is an extremely valuable and important part of the process. The provision of feedback to the Client will establish the foundation for the following stages. The receipt and analysis of feedback from the Client needs to be recorded and considered in future validation processes.
If the determination is made that the Client is ‘not yet competent’, then the points that were the catalyst for this decision will require gap training in order to work towards achieving a ‘competent’ outcome. This situation can generally be planned for if the previous stages are well structured and the strategy devised is robust. The identification of gaps that require training may be difficult to spot at times, but once identified these must be addressed before a determination of competence is made.
Where gap training is identified as being required, appropriate strategies need to be developed to support the process in consultation with the Client.
If a determination of ‘competent’ is made, the finalisation of documentation related to the completion of the RPL process is completed, followed by the issuing of a Statement of Attainment or a Qualification. Documentation relating to assessment decisions must be retained by the RTO.
RPL as a process is not bound by any single correct approach. There are many different ways to conduct RPL which is added to in complexity by the many different Units of Competence and Qualifications available.
By working within strategies for conducting RPL, as an Assessor you are also able to support required aspects of SNRs 15.2 and 15.5 (Elements 1.2 and 1.5 in the AQTF). The strategy must ensure that the process of RPL is able to support the principles of assessment and gather evidence that is consistent with the rules of evidence to support the outcomes, including meeting any workplace and regulatory requirements.
RPL processes and RPL assessment tools require validation just as much as any other processes or tools used in any assessment strategy to ensure they are able to meet the requirements in delivering an assessment result that is consistent with the principles of assessment, the rules of evidence and the requirements of the Training Package in line with industry standards and practices.
After RPL processes have been completed, feedback collected from the Client that proves to be ‘sufficient’ will support the judgment of how effective the service provided really is. Using this data to drive continuous improvement and develop a more effective service will support compliance with SNR 16.2 (Element 2.2 of the AQTF).